In Pictures: ‘Genna’ – An Orthodox Ethiopian Christmas

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas eve by calling for peace and unity.
Ethiopian Orthodox pilgrims attend the Christmas Eve celebration at Savior’s Church (Beit Medhane Alem) in Lalibela, Ethiopia, on January 7, 2019. – The Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas called Ledet or Genna is celebrated on January 7, 2019, and it attracts pilgrims from all over the country. The eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

As the country follows its own calendar, Ethiopians celebrate ‘Genna’ – the birth of Jesus Christ – on the 7th of January, almost two weeks after the rest of the world mark the day.

Members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church passes through special 43 fasting days called ‘Tseome Nebiyat’ the fast of the prophets, before the actual day of the Christmas. During the fasting days followers abstain from meat and dairy, making them totally vegetarian.

In the eve of Gena, the faithful, dressing white traditional cloths, gathered at churches for the mass church services that start after midnight and lasts in the morning of Christmas day.

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The ceremony of the mass service is similar in every Orthodox Church except at the rock hewn churches of Lalibela, where the celebration is unique.

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