Pretend right now that you are standing in the middle of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia (o.k., I've seen the driving there so maybe not the middle of the road...not even sure if you're safe on the side either...but work with me here). Anyway, pretend we are somewhere in the city and you realize it's January 7th. Now in Ethiopia, they follow the Julian calendar so today is the day in which they celebrate Christmas - called Ganna. It's much different from the way we celebrate.
The day before Ganna, people fast all day. Then the next morning at dawn, everyone dresses in white in a traditional shamma (which is a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends) and attend an early morning mass. In a modern church, the choir assembles in the outer circle. Each person entering the church is given a candle. The congregation walks around the church three times in a solemn procession, holding the flickering candles. Then they gather in the second circle to stand throughout the long mass, with the men and boys separated from the women and girls. The center circle is the holiest space in the church, where the priest serves Holy Communion.
Ganna is not typically a time for giving gifts in Ethiopia. If a child receives any gift at all, it is usually a small gift of clothing. Religious observances, feasting, and games are the focus of the season.
So Happy Ganna everyone!