Christmas in January (Epiphany)

Genna in EthiopiaOn January 6th, most of the world celebrated Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Wise Men. In fact, Epiphany is a public holiday in Spain, Austria, some parts of Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Colombia, Poland and the US Virgin Islands. 

In parts of the world that follow the Orthodox Gregorian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on January 6th or 7th. For example, the Armenian community in Lebanon and around the world celebrates Christmas on January 6th. The official Christmas holiday in Russia, Ethiopia, Egypt, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan is January 7th. (The Nativity and the adoration of the shepherds is celebrated on the evening of January 6th. January 7 marks the adoration of the Magi.)

In the U.S., early January is past the peak season for Christmas events and considered to be low season in the events and hospitality industry. Companies can often realize considerable savings by holding their annual Christmas events during this time.

However, a word of caution is very important. The desire to save money should never override respect for the needs of a multi-cultural workforce. Employees who follow Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox traditions will want to attend services and spend time with family during Epiphany.

If your company has a lot of Middle Eastern and Egyptian employees, keep in mind the fact that the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East and Egypt. Washington, DC has the largest Ethiopian population located outside of Ethiopia. If you're based in Washington, some members of your team may attend the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Learning more about Epiphany - and incorporating some of its traditions into an event that falls near the holiday, might be an interesting way to reflect the culture through your color palette, venue, menu selections, decorations and music.

Ukrainian Christmas

  • Ukrainian Christmas DinnerDate: January 7th, (Christmas Eve is January 6th)
  • Colors: Blue and Yellow (colors of the flag)
  • Decorations: Didukh (wheat sheaves). Hay is scattered under the tables to remember the Nativity stable.
  • Venue Suggestions: An Ukrainian restaurant or community center.
  • Main Courses: 12 course meatless dinner served on Christmas Eve (one for each apostle) includes Kutia, borshch, vushka, varenyky, holubtsi. 3 ring shaped Kolach (braided Christmas braid) representing the Trinity are stacked at the center of the table and a candle is placed in the center.
  • Beverages: Uzvar

Ukrainian with English Sub-titles

Ethiopian Christmas (Called Genna or Ganna)

  • Tibs and injeraDate: January 7th
  • Colors: Red, Gold and Green (colors of the Ethiopian flag)
  • Dress Code: White (traditionally robes called Shammas)
  • Decorations: Each guest gets a candle that they carry into the venue. Grass and eucalyptus are scattered on the floor.
  • Music: Drums and sistrums
  • Venue Suggestions: An Ethiopian restaurant or community center. (Set up the room in 3 circles, corresponding to the 3 circles used for the traditional Ganna service of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church)
  • Main Courses: Doro Wat, a chicken stew, and Tibs, a lamb stew, served on injera, a flat bread
  • Beverages: Traditional coffee ceremony. 
  • Games: Ganna, similar to hockey, played with a wooden ball and curved stick

The Cvent Event Blog has previously provided examples and tips for foreign festive events in:

Every event planner should bookmark these sections on the Why Christmas website as excellent resources:

TLCs Christmas traditions around the world is also a helpful resource.

Photo Credits: sameffron, svacherfoxy_moron

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Receive updates on the latest trends, best practices, and strategies
to transform your meetings and events