Sunday, January 04, 2015

An Ethiopian Christmas

(Jan 04, 2015)--While the Gregorian calendar celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December, Ethiopia still retains the ancient Julian calendar in which Christmas falls on January 7th (of the Gregorian calendar.) Its typically, a hot summer day and people in towns and villages dress up in their finest to celebrate.

File Photo
Year after year the Christmas season brings to the minds of all Christians the story of the Child in the manger, the shepherds on the Judean hills, the Celestial songs “Glory to God in the highest”, and the Angle’s message, telling that the Long expected one had come.

Liddet or Gena is the Ethiopian name for Christmas which is marked by special ceremonies. The origin is basically the same as is universally accepted. It is celebrated on 7th January (Tahsas 29 E.C) preceded by a fast of 40 days. The difference of date is due to a calendar of discrepancy since the Ethiopian calendar is based on the year of Grace 7 or 8 years after Anno Domini. The Ethiopian Christmas coincides with the date of this observance in the Eastern Orthodox dispensation.

Qiddus Bale Wold is another name for Christmas in addition to Liddet or Gena. Gena is also a name for a Christmas game played by boys and grown up men (like hokey).

The Ethiopian name given to Christmas is Ledet or Genna which, according to elders, comes from the word Gennana, meaning "imminent" to express the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin. Genna is also the name given to a hockey-like ball game.

Legend has it that when shepherds heard of the birth of Christ they rejoiced and started playing the game with their sticks. Men and boys in villages now play the traditional Genna game with great enthusiasm in the late afternoon of Christmas day, a spectacle much enjoyed by village communities and the elders who referee the game.

Christmas is more unique in rural areas than in the cities and it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another. It is quietly shared and celebrated in groups of friends and family. Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas festivities in Ethiopia and only small gifts are exchanged among family and friends at home.

The festive mood usually continues until the late hours of the evening. The joy of giving and sharing, extends beyond religious beliefs and spreads the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind throughout the world.

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