Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meskel Celebration 2012...

September 27 marked the annual Meskel holiday in Ethiopia. Meskel celebrates the "finding of the true cross" by Queen Helena in the 4th century.  Across Ethiopia, Orthodox Christians burn bonfires to celebrate. Read all about it here.

Here in New York, we celebrated with a little home style Ethiopian feast- sega wat, fosalia and atkilt. (Find recipes here.) Then we roasted some s'mores over our charcoal grill.  Amazingly, nobody's hair was set on fire, fingers remained unsinged and smoke damage was minimal. Despite their best efforts at setting themselves and their clothes on fire, they went to bed with all their limbs intact.  Score, mom!

Waiting for daddy to light the fire. See how I'm holding them back? :)
It's been a challenge so far to incorporate Ethiopian holidays into our life. I remain committed to keeping connected to Daniel and Lily's birth culture, but a there a couple of ways in which it can be difficult. First of all, we aren't Ethiopian Coptic Christians. Most Ethiopian holidays are religious ones, and celebrated with long worship services, religious parades, fasts and other religious service. We have promised ourselves that one Sunday we'll hike up the the Ethiopian church in Harlem, but the 8AM to NOON worship service scares me. 4 hours keeping my kids calm and quiet during a service in another language? YIKES!
S'mores! Fire!

 I have a lot of respect for the intensity and focus of Ethiopian holidays. From my extensive research reading on Wikipedia it seems that most holidays are celebrated very simply: worship, prayer, and a homemade feast with extended family. Not a greeting card, elf, fairy, elaborate decorating style or color scheme in sight. So when we take away the prayer/worship part, each holiday is just another chance to make doro wat.  Not that exciting....

So I was thrilled to learn of a holiday with an activity! And who doesn't like sitting with their family around a bonfire eating treats? Even if some members of the family remain determined to set themselves on fire?

Toasted marshmallows, yuck. Graham crackers? mmm.....

Next year, maybe we'll actually buy some wood to have a proper fire, and have some friends over to help us celebrate Ethiopian bonfire night!

I wonder if they have s'mores in Addis Ababa? How can I make them more habeshi.... hmm... maybe a little berbere sprinkled on the marshmallows?

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