It is really wonderful to celebrate New Year's day in Ethiopia, my native country and also in America, my residential country. In Ethiopia there are a lot of holidays. We celebrate New Year's two months before Americans do, on September 1st. This means that in Ethiopia, New Years is before Christmas. In Ethiopia we celebrate Christmas on January 8th.
When I was in my country our family had a special ceremony for the New Year. This ceremony was full of gifts from our relatives mostly. Also, our mom sent us wonderful things like toys, clothes etc. from America. Our parents normally bought us beautiful clothes and shoes because after New Year's the school opened for the new school year. This is why we liked New Year's more than Christmas in our family.
Before the New Year holiday our house has to be completely cleaned up. We all help each other, the whole family, because all the furniture and everything has to be taken outside so the house will be empty to clean everything easily. After cleaning we decorate our home. Then on the holiday, early in the morning, we decorate our house's floor with fresh grass and daisy flowers. When you enter the house it smells really nice and you don't feel like going outside. In that morning we exchange gifts.
Christmas is also a lot of fun. We cook a lot of tasty and delicious foods. On Christmas we make many different and difficult kinds of dishes. We cook traditional dishes. There are more than 15 different kinds of foods. The most important and delightful food is called Doro Wet. It is famous all over the Ethiopia and it takes almost 12 hours to cook. There are more than 3 drinks, different ones made by hand. My family takes approximately three weeks to make all the dishes and drinks. Then on the holiday we all eat together. On big holidays our home looks very different and prettier than any other day.
Right before I came to the U.S. in 1999, one month before Ethiopian New Year's, I was really exited about the New Year's holiday. But suddenly something happened. My older brother and I got our visas to go to America to live with our mom. I wasn't expecting this would happen. My whole family was a little sad because they really were going to miss us but they were glad we got a good chance to get a better life in our future. They were so busy packing. They packed lots of things that were important for us and for our mom like food, cultural clothes, gifts, etc.
Between that time and New Year's, my family didn't pay attention to the holiday because everyone was busy with our preparations to leave Ethiopia. I was expecting the gifts that I had thought about a month earlier. Unfortunately, due to this urgent process, New Year passed like any other simple day. I got a few simple gifts like cards, chocolates, and candies. I was angry and kind off sad about it.
A week before the Ethiopian celebration of Christmas, I heard that I had to leave that week. I quickly looked at my ticket's date. It was correct; it was on that week. Now my heart started beating quickly. I felt really irritated. My face, my eyes were completely changed like when you eat very spicy food for the first time. I knew American Christmas and New Year would have passed before we got there. Thus, I wasn't going to be able to celebrate these holidays in America, either.
It was January 1st when we started our trip from Ethiopia to the U.S. On the plane I celebrated New Year's and Christmas in my heart alone, without anybody. I felt the pain deep inside my hurting heart and I wondered: "How will next year's holiday will be!" also, I thought about all the times I had spent New Year's and Christmas with my family and my friends, the places we went to and gifts that we exchanged.
On January 2nd, right after New Year's in America, we landed in an interesting and cold state called Maryland. It was early morning and our mom was waiting for us at the gate. Our mom looked more beautiful than I remembered her. Her face got lighter. Her hairstyle was nice. She had put some make-up on. She has gotten tinnier than I had ever seen her. When she saw us she was crying.
Several days after our arrival, I said to my mom, "It is really sad to miss two of my favorite holidays in the year 1999."
She answered, "Don't worry, you will celebrate next year with the new millennium, with the new culture and with a new family because you are in America with me now, my darling."
Then I got new hope and started to think about next year's holidays in this new country. "How will it be?" I asked my mom. She told me, "Those two holidays are remarkable in America. People celebrate them the most." Then I felt excited about next year's holiday seasons and I could practice being patient..
Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2001 (This page was created by Liwen Ye.)