Ethiopia has its own calendar but celebrates Christmas with the rest of Orthodox Christian world on January 7
January 7, 2021
Ethiopians on Thursday celebrated Christmas across the country with cultural and religious festivity. As is always the case, the holiday is more colourful in Lalibela — a town with the twelfth century rock hewn churches — and that is dubbed as the Jerusalem of Ethiopia. It attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, over one million pilgrims have attended the celebration in Lalibela, according to citizens reports on social media.
Christmas is also celebrated outside of Ethiopia among the followers of Orthodox Christians around the world. Ethiopia is believed to have over 50 million Orthodox Christians. However, the followers of protestant denominations and Catholic Church in Ethiopia celebrate it on the same day along with Orthodox Christians.
Apart from the religious aspect of which it — which is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in Betelhem — the holiday has a profound cultural significance for Ethiopians. There is a field-hockey like play that is played during the day. It is called Yegena Chewata in Amharic, a language with its own ancient script and spoken across Ethiopia. The holiday itself is called Gena in Amharic.
President Sahlework Zewde conveyed a message of best wishes for Ethiopians in the country and abroad. “For all followers of Christianity, I wish you a happy Christmas Holiday. As we celebrate it, let us think about our compatriots who are hurt and also practice prevention measures against COVID-19,” she said in her Twitter message on Thursday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his deputy Demeke Mekonen have also conveyed Christmas messages.
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