Lalibela Christmas Celebration

Gena (Christmas) falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendar (January 7 Gregorian calendar).

Lalibela Christmas Celebration

Gena (Christmas) falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendar (January 7 Gregorian calendar). Gena (Christmas) is celebrated after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent), with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 AM and lasts until 9 AM. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with injera and the traditional drinks (i.e., tella or tej).

Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia famous for monolithic rock-cut churches. It is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and a center of pilgrimage.

Ethiopia’s tourist website wrote about Christmas, ‘‘Gena or Ledet (7 January), the Ethiopian equivalent to Christmas, is preceded by an all-night vigil following 43 days of fasting that culminate.

‘‘It is a family-oriented holiday, but in some areas it is marked by traditional dancing or a hockey-like game called Yegenna Chewata, supposedly played by the local shepherds on the night Jesus was born. It is traditional to eat the national dish doro wot (chicken stew) over Gena.’‘

Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7. Among others, those in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, neighbouring Egypt, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Maldova.

Coptic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7 according to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the commonly observed Gregorian calendar.