Christmas in Ethiopia
Ethiopian Christmas Attire
The Ethiopian name for Christmas is Genna, which expresses the coming of the Lord to free mankind of its sins.
On Christmas Eve the city is crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the country. They remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. In the morning, a colorful procession makes its way to a nearby hilltop where a service is held. Three young men march at the head of the crowd, lashing whips from left to right to keep the people in line. Those who worship are fed with bread and wine that has been blessed by priests.
Ethiopia (and especially the Ethiopian Orthodox Church) still use the old Julian calendar, so they celebrate Christmas on January 7th, not December 25th! Many people fast on Christmas Eve (January 6th). At dawn on the morning of Ganna, people get dressed in white, while the priests wear red and white robes and carry embroidered fringed umbrellas.
Christmas day is full of games for the men and boys in Ethopia, playing a game similiar to our game hockey. Or they may be on horseback where the men throw ceremonial lances at each other. After working up a big appetite playing outside, they come in for the traditional meal. It’s a thick and spicy stew that contains meat, vegetables and sometimes eggs that’s served on a flat bread. Or a pancake made of sourdough is also popular.
Most people go to Church on Christmas day. Old country churches are often very old and have been carved out of rock. People don’t give and receive present in Ethiopia. Sometimes children might be given a small gift of some clothes from their family members. It’s more a time for going to church, eating lots and playing games!
Saying Merry Christmas in Ethopia is said Melkam Genna!
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