Redeat Getachew '23
In my opinion, the holiday season is the best part of the year. Spending time with family, decorating the Christmas tree, and listening to holiday music are some of my favorite parts of the season. But for me, the holiday season wasn't always like this. I was born in Ethiopia, all the way in Africa where Christmas was celebrated differently. My move from Ethiopia to the United States forced me to handle two distinct cultures and Christmas was one part of it.
Ethiopia was very different during Christmas time. The very first thing I remember being different was the lack of care for Santa Claus. Of course, I knew who he was, but it wasn't as much of a big deal as it is here in the US. I vaguely remember taking a picture with a Santa Claus that came to my school but that was it. He wasn't a threat that my parents held over my head to be good nor was he the one who brought us the gifts. In fact, presents were not a thing. I know, shocker, but it's true. Presents were never a thing. Christmas in Ethiopia is first celebrated by going to Church. We wake up early and put on our all-white traditional clothes and make our way there. Spending time with those around me after Church was what my little toddler mind thought was the best part of the season. This is when family, friends, and neighbors come to our house to celebrate with us. Mouthwatering food is lined up on the table, and coffee is served for the adults. Doro Wat is my favorite food to eat during this time; it's like a stew with chicken, eggs and lots of onions, I highly recommend that people try it. Hanging out with family and friends and eating so many delicious foods were traditions that my family had when we were in Ethiopia.
In 2012, I moved from Ethiopia to the US. My six-year-old mind couldn't wrap my head around the fact I was moving halfway across the world to the place that I only saw on TV. Christmas was very different here; I was surprised to see the bright lights covering up houses and the Christmas trees everywhere. Even more than that, I was surprised by the concept of presents. Moving to the US gave my family and me a chance to combine our old Ethiopian traditions with American ones to make new traditions. My family still goes to Church on Christmas day and we still cook our favorite Ethiopian meals but on top of that, we've added new things. For example, my family has taken to going to the giant Christmas tree at the National Mall and taking pictures there. Despite the freezing weather, we walk around at night enjoying the lights and the Christmas spirit. We also spend time together decorating the Christmas tree that stands in the corner of our living room.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year and the traditions that I have cultivated with my family is one of the reasons why. Just like Yochi Hobson '23 says, "Traditions are important because it brings a family together... you are bonding over something." My holiday traditions have changed and adapted over the years and it seems like they will be changing once again due to COVID-19 this year, too.
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