Ethiopian Christmas

January 7th was Ethiopian Christmas.  This is the first year we’ve celebrated it, but we’re making it a tradition.  I like traditions.  I also like that traditions can form at any time.

One of the things I’ve felt like a failure in is making sure our family has strong roots in the Ethiopian culture.  We have two amazing, beautiful Ethiopian sons and I never want them to look back and think we don’t value this incredibly important part of who they are.  We talk about Ethiopia and we all know some facts…we talk about birth stories and one day going back together as a family…we have Ethiopian items displayed in our house, but we’ve never really done any celebrating…any traditional things.

So early in December we sent out a very fancy text invite to all our family and asked them to join us for a traditional Ethiopian dinner on January 8 to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas.  We read up on this important holiday and then we just did our best.  The kids were insanely excited which we loved!!!!  We decorated just a bit…sewn crate paper streamers, a new chalkboard message and butcher paper on the table for coloring.  Simple and easy.

We kicked it off by lighting candles and praying over our food and thanking God for the sweet boys who brought Ethiopia into our family.  We then shared a little about the food.  I might have cried.  I was incredibly emotional because talking about their birth place and thinking about their incredible birthparents makes me want to cry a river…a full fledged river.

I did not attempt to make any of the food.  Maybe one year I will, but for now we called in reinforcements…and by reinforcements I mean GoJo Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant and Chickfila 🙂  We wanted good, traditional foods, but also did not want to make any young cousins cry.  I was a picky eater as a child…I did not like trying new or different things, so I feel for kiddos who feel the same.  All the Ethiopian dishes we chose we’re Kelley kid approved by one or more of our kiddos…we assumed if our kids liked them then the adults would probably too.

We ordered Miser W’et (lentils), Shiro W’et (chickpeas), Yebeg Alicha (lamb), Beef Tibs (beef), Minchet Abish Deqa (ground beef), Chicken Curry & Peas and lots of injera bread.  We also had chickfila nuggets, fruit cups, veggies and popcorn for kiddos who weren’t so interested in the Ethiopian food.

Large glass bottle sodas were a must…straight from Mexico 🙂  In Ethiopia they have ridiculously large glass bottle sodas and we have such sweet fond memories surrounding them.  I remember holding Solomon the day we met and watching two sets of adorable twins who had just met their parent’s as well…their faces and bodies covered in stickers, devouring sweet treats and turning up these large glass bottle drinks during our coffee ceremony.  It makes me smile and get teary eyed.

I remember watching 5-year-old Harper drink those same glass bottle sodas on our first trip to meet Amon.  She was crazy excited to meet her new brother…it’s where there story began.

I remember sitting in the hotel room with my best friend Ashley for less then 48 hours with Amon…her telling me all about the new Batman movie, eating pizza and drinking these same large glass bottled cokes.  We acted as if we weren’t about to take the most stress filled, scary plane ride of our lives…together…with small baby Amon and his precious heart which needed some fixing.  So many more memories surrounding something so simple and small like glass bottle sodas.

Solomon is quite the dessert master.  Every time he gets to pick a dessert for a celebration…his Gotcha Days and birthdays…he comes up with quite elaborate and detailed concoctions.  It’s one of his gifts.  I let him pick our dessert.  He chose homemade brownies, peppermint ice-cream, mint chocolate chip ice-cream, homemade chocolate sauce and whip cream.  It was just as divine as it sounds.  When I asked him what his favorite part of the night was he said, “When Big Daddy cut his brownie in half and put his ice-cream in the middle making it an ice-cream sandwich.”  Well planned desserts might be one of his love languages.

The rest of the night the kids just ran around like wild children…playing, laughing and drinking far too many sodas and juice boxes.  There was lots of zombie tag outside because zombie tag is a very traditional Ethiopian Christmas game 🙂  The adults sat around chatting and laughing and exchanging stories which I so loved.  Everyone stayed as late as they liked.  No set time to go home…just whenever you wanted to.  We partied pretty hard.

Near the end of the night, Sol came by and grabbed me around the waist.  I leaned into him and he said lowly, “Can we do this every year?”  Absolutely!  We might not have done everything completely authentic.  We might not have done everything right, but we celebrate a rich culture that is deeply entwined into our family and that we are forever grateful for.  And no matter what, I think that is a successful celebration.

Happy Monday.


  1. Rebekah K-T says:

    Laura, I just love this! My brother adopted a sister and brother from Ethiopia and I would love to see this happening in their house. What a wonderful tradition. Thank you! Bekah K-T

  2. Love. Good job mama.

  3. Love, love, love this!


  1. […] you can start them anytime you want and you get to make them your own.  Last year we celebrated our first Ethiopian Christmas with family.  We had such a fun time and our family loved doing it.  We loved celebrating this […]

  2. […]  You can read about our 2016 celebration HERE and our 2017 celebration […]

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