Like many Ethiopian adoptees, our girls have more than one birthday. In Ethiopia birthdays are not as important as here. They simply aren’t celebrated. I remember I gave my friend M her first birthday gift ever… And she was in her 40s. It was a canning funnel to get hot coffee beans inside her jebuna. Not a big gift! But her first one.
Our girls get no shortage of gifts on their birthday. Their paper birthday, that is. However, we are lucky enough to know their true birthday, and we celebrate this one very differently. It’s a mix of Ethiopian tradition and Canadian custom.
The last few years we have had Ethiopian food and invited family to celebrate. (Family includes their Ethiopian “auntie and uncle” as well.)
When I asked them what they wanted to do this year to celebrate, the girls said that all they wanted was for me and my girlfriends to have a coffee ceremony in their honour. How sweet was that? And a lot easier than cooking up a feast, that’s for sure.
I thought this was kind of funny in a way, since the girls would not even be drinking coffee. But they obviously recognize the cultural significance of coffee drinking and told me that they just wanted to run around with their friends while I and my friends drink coffee. Ok, then!
Well, my grandmother and my aunt were in town for the girls’ “Ethiopian birthday” as well. So we had their Nona (great grandmother,) great-aunt, Canadian mom and (for the drinking part) dad, Ethiopian pseudo-auntie, good friend, another good friend and their assorted children for coffee. The girls loved it! And we all had a nice relaxing morning as well.
The other thing it made me think about is who constitutes the girls family… All those pieces of birth family, adoptive family, and family by choice.
After everyone had gone home, I continued the tradition that we started the first Ethiopian birthday the girls celebrated in Canada, four years ago. Each birthday we give them a little piece of Ethiopian silver jewelry. This year was seven ring… It looks so big on their hands! But they just loved it.
I would love to hear what other people do to celebrate their children’s true birthdays… Any other special traditions?