Christmas in Ethiopia : Genna in Ethiopia

Ethiopia officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south.

Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia.

Christmas in Ethiopia

Christmas Celebrations in Ethiopia :

Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian nations. Genna, or Christmas, is celebrated on January 7 in accordance with the calendar of the Coptic Church.

Leading up to Christmas is a 40 day period of fasting and spiritual preparation that ends when everyone attends a Christmas morning Mass. It’s a very bright ceremony since it is customary to wear white to the Mass. Most people wear a traditional garment called a shamma. Each person enters the church carrying a candle which they light when they get inside. After circling the inside of the church three times they take their place and stand for what is usually a three hour service. Christmas is a religious day and a family day where little thought is given to commercial aspects of the holiday.

The food for Christmas dinner includes injera, a sourdough pancake bread that is easily cooked over an open fire. Doro wat, a spicy chicken stew, is usually the main course. Bits of injera are broken off to scoop up the stew and other parts of the feast. Gift-giving is an insignificant part of the Christmas celebration however young children often receive clothing and sometimes a small toy.

The season continues through Timket or Epiphany, a three-day holiday that begins two weeks after Christmas to celebrate the baptism of Jesus and St. Michael. On that occasion, children walk in a ceremonial parade wearing crowns and robes while turban-wearing priests carry embroidered umbrellas. Percussive music for the parade is played on the sistrum, a rattle like instrument shaped like a pear. It has small metal disks that make a tinkling sound when shaken.

Around the time of Ganna, the men and boys play a game that is also called ganna. It’s played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball, a bit like hockey. Another game is yeferas guks. It’s played on horseback and the men throw ceremonial lances at each other.

Twelve days after Ganna, on 19th January, Ethiopians start the three day celebration of Timkat. It celebrated the baptism of Jesus. Children walk to church services in a procession. They wear the crowns and robes of the church youth groups that they belong to. Adults wear the shamma. The priests wear red and white robes and carry embroidered fringed umbrellas.

Musical instruments are played during the Timkat procession. The sistrum is a percussion instrument with tinkling metal disks a bit like a vertical tambourine. A makamiya, a long T-shaped prayer stick is used to keep the rhythm and is also used by the priests and a stick to lean on during the long Timkat church service!

Genna or Ethiopian Christmas

Amharic is the language of Ethiopia and people wish each other Merry Christmas in this language saying – Melkin Yelidet Beaal or Melkin Genna.

Christmas celebrations are grand in Addis Ababa, the capital and the largest city of Ethiopia. Apart from that Christmas celebrations are notable in other big cities in Estonia like – Dire Dawa, Mek’ele, Adama, Gondar, Awasa, Bahir Dar, Jimma, Dessie, Jijiga, Shashamane, Debre Zeyit, Harar, etc.

We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Prosperous New Year 2020 !!!