Today is Ethiopian Christmas. The day is spent eating and inviting friends, family and neighbours round for food. I don’t think there is any exchange of presents but rather it’s all about having a large meal and sharing it with others nearby. Apparently many people fast for a few weeks beforehand, in as much as they don’t eat meat during this time, but then they all come into hospital sick as they gorge themselves with meat cooked in palm oil (if they ever get it to melt). There was also a man admitted today having sustained multiple stab wounds to the bowel yesterday. Apparently there was some kind of fight over coffee, probably induced by too much alcohol. As I mentioned previously, this is the time for boozing and coffee picking – the coffee brings in the money to buy the alcohol.
We started the preparations for the day last night, when we cooked the meat for the day – I got Makabe to buy some beef from the market as I know our guests will want to eat meat. I am sticking to my vegetarian diet on the basis that the there are far too many flies on the meat that I’ve seen and I’m not sure whether the prevalence of TB in cows is as high as it is in humans. So I put the meat in the slow cooker and then went to the Christmas service at the church down the road. Lensa, the nurse from Homa called for me and took me along so that I could see what an Ethiopian Christmas service was like. There were some quite sweet children singing as they walked in carrying candles. Well they were sweet until they gave each of them a turn on the microphone, which induced them to cream in a high pitched voice and near deafen the entire congregation.
Having got the meal all sorted, we went along to Makabe’s house as she invited us for lunch. On the way, I noticed a goat in our garden – I reckon he must have escaped from becoming Christmas lunch. Anyway, despite having told Makabe that we were having various children round for lunch, she insisted that we also ate some food at her house. Seemed rude to refuse and so we have adopted the Ethiopian Christmas tradition of eating all day. We took Jaba with us and he looked really at home amongst the family. Hopefully, a picture will be posted later on as I have sent one to my mum.
We returned home in time for Clara, the boys and Lensa and Galana (from one of the health centres) to arrive for lunch. So the ten (well 11 if you count Jaba) tucked into a Christmas feast of beef or vegetables and pasta – this is a feast here anyway. Then we watched Harry Potter on the ‘big screen’, followed by pancakes with nutella spread, which Clara had found in the supermarket.
The to top it all, we were able to give the boys a present as yesterday we had just picked up a parcel of t-shirts that Karen had sent. They were really excited and rapidly dressed in their new tops, eager to pose for a photo. ‘Just like a football team’, I called out to their beaming faces. All children are football mad here, with Man United or Arsenal being amongst the few English words that they speak (well apart from ‘you, you , you, give me money’).
So all in all, a very good day and we are now exhausted and ready to watch an episode of the mentalist (yes, we seem to had got addicted to this now). Jeremy is on call as Washuin, the Ethiopian doctor has gone away for a few days holiday – he will need this as he is soon to do 3 weeks on his own. Mind you, it is normal for doctors here to always be on-call all of the time.