Double The Fun

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

It is the land of thirteen months of sunshine. Why thirteen months, because the calendar used in this land is the Coptic Calendar, which has a thirteenth month with only five or six days depending on leap year. This land is not in the year 2014, in fact it is in the year 2006 today. A gap of seven to eight years exists between the Coptic and Gregorian calendars as a result of an alternate calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. There are more things you may not know about this land. For instance, it had one of the earliest civilisations, called Aksum. It is one of two countries in Africa that was never colonised by the West. It once had a monarchy like the United Kingdom. One of its past emperors is the last prophet to the Rastafarians of Jamaica. This land has unique alphabetic and numeric scripts that are still in use today. This land is the land that I call my motherland. In the past, it was called Abyssinia, today it goes by the name of Ethiopia.

Located in the Horn or East of Africa, Ethiopia is surrounded by countries like Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya. It is land-locked. In other words, it has no direct access to the beautiful oceans of the world, which is disappointing. However, Ethiopia has several attractions that tourists from all around the world, flock to visit annually. The main attractions that draw tourism include the rock-hewn church buildings of Lalibela, the castle of Gonder, the Axum obelisks, Semien mountains and the Blue Nile falls, which in river form, travels through to Sudan then finally arrives in Egypt in the Northern part of Africa. The pyramids would not have been built without the help of the Blue Nile river.

The capital city of Ethiopia is called Addis Ababa, in English this translates to new flower. I was born in this city in the year 1982 (Gregorian calendar) or 1974 (Ethiopian calendar), whichever you wish to go by. My childhood was quite ordinary. My parents made sure my brothers and I had the basic necessities and sometimes a bit more while growing up. What I mean by this is that for example, we had Corn Flakes cereal available at the breakfast table. This was not typical in an average Ethiopian household at that time. I know this, because I recall one of my cousins making a passing comment in later years about having his first eating experience of Corn Flakes at our house. I found his comment funny but at the same time, I was surprised that it hadn’t occurred to me until he mentioned it.

We had a bit more exposure to the West than some families in Ethiopia, that is for sure. My mother would encourage us to decorate a Christmas tree with her at Christmas time, which is not done in the Ethiopian culture and is a Western culture. This also led to us celebrating both Western and Ethiopian Christmases. On December 25th, we’d listen to Christmas songs by artists like Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey and on January 7, we’d drive over to my grandparents’ house to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas or Gena with our extended family. Double the fun for us children, we loved it and still do. This doubling action did not stop there. We also celebrated 2 new years. Ethiopian New Year or Addis Amet on September 11 (Gregorian calendar) or Meskerem 1 (Ethiopian calendar) and the Western New Year on January 1. It might look strange to an outsider, but for us, it was the norm.

This tradition of doubling up has now continued in my current household. My Australian husband is accustomed to celebrating two Christmases, New Years and Easters. It is not always a doubling up case with Easter or Fasika. It sometimes aligns with the Western date, which results in us celebrating it on the same day. I’m sure my son will have questions about this when he gets bigger, so I’ll have to either explain it to him or tell him to read this post.

pingback: Writing 101 Day 20 Twist

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5 thoughts on “Double The Fun

  1. An interesting read. You pulled me into the piece. I wanted to know more about your family – why were your parents so Westernised? Maybe you can write more in your next post. I’ve spent some time in Ethiopia in the last couple of years – an amazing place!

    Liked by 1 person

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