What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas

What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas


What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas: In Ethiopia, Christmas is on January 7 instead of December 25, like it is everywhere else, especially in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Based on the old calendar of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, the Ethiopian calendar celebrates Christmas on the 29th of Tahsas. Over time, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has made its own set of holy days.

People who participate in Ganna wear white, and many of them wear the native Netela. With bands of different colors going down the ends, this thin white cotton cloth can be worn as a toga or shawl. Some people dress in “western” clothes when they live in cities. Everyone calls Christmas Eve the “ahead of Christmas,” and it starts at 6 p.m., starts around 3 a.m., and ends around 3 a.m. today, Christmas Day.

Since Ethiopia uses the Julian date, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 instead of December 25, which is an interesting fact. Christmas parties called “Ganna” in the traditional Ethiopian Church, are very lively in both old and new churches. On January 6, Christmas Eve, there is a formal break. The next day, there is another fast. As is the norm, people wear white robes and carry candles into the Church.

What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas

Christmas in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 instead of December 25, mostly by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. A traditional Ethiopian calendar says that Christmas is on the 29th of Tahsas. Every Orthodox Church in the world also celebrates this day. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt gave the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church its calendar, which has special days on it.

People from all over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church come to church services on Christmas Day to see Ganna or Genna, which is a celebration of Christmas. It’s called the “Fast of the Prophets” (Tsome Nebiyat), and it starts on November 25 and lasts for 43 days before Christmas. People who follow this religion often only eat one vegan meal a day and don’t eat any meat, dairy, eggs, or booze during this time.

People wear white clothes and the local textile Netela a lot during Ganna. This thin white cotton fabric has bands of different colors that run down the ends. You can wear it as a tie or a shawl. People who live in cities often dress in “Western” styles. At 6:00 p.m., the Gahad of Christmas, or Christmas Eve church mass, starts. It starts around 3 a.m. and ends around 3 a.m. today, Christmas Day.

Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia, is a modern city. People who live outside of big towns usually live in rotunda buildings with mud-covered walls and cone-shaped roofs. But there may still be some stone-built, rectangular houses in the country.

Celebrating Ethiopian Christmas

Most people wear tela or Shamma, which are white cotton robes with brightly colored lines on the ends. On the other hand, priests carry umbrellas with fringed stitching and dress in red and white robes. A traditional part of the celebrations is going to Church in the afternoon.

Each participant is given a candle that looks like the star of Bethlehem, and they walk three times around the Church in a somber procession. After that, everyone makes a circle around the priest, who is in the middle of giving out Holy Communion.

To start the 12-day celebrations, there will be sports, fun, folk dances, and entertainment. Boys play Ganna, a summer game like hockey, but with a round wooden ball and a bent stick. As an important part of Christmas traditions, this game shows shepherds taking care of their sheep.

One more sport that Ethiopian men do is called refers guys. It involves riding a horse and throwing swords at each other. Even though modern churches are interesting, people who want to see old buildings should go to Lalibela in January. Lalibela is one of the holiest places in Ethiopia, and during the Christmas season, a lot of people come to celebrate around the 11 churches hewn out of the rock in the 13th century. The houses in this group were made during the rule of King Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty. They are now known as World Heritage sites.

Where to stay in Ethiopia

If you want to experience the traditions of Christmas in Ethiopia, there are many hotel choices. In Addis Ababa, the capital and biggest city, the five-star Radisson Blue is a great place to stay. It has a cool vibe and is easy to get to.

The Ben Abeba Lodge & Tukul in Lalibela offers beautiful views and is close to the celebrations. The Haile Resort Arba Minch is a great choice for anyone who wants a touch of luxury at a fair price. It has a pool, a full breakfast, and many other services.

You can find a hotel in Ethiopia that fits your price. You can celebrate Ethiopian Christmas, which is one of many things you can do on your perfect trip to Africa. Discover the ideal time to go to Ethiopia, see its most interesting sights, and take part in fun activities. Get ideas from our local travel experts and The Rough Guide to Ethiopia’s tips for things to do in Ethiopia. For a more useful method, learn about how to travel, get around the country, and find a place to stay. Before you leave, remember to buy travel insurance.

Our local travel consultants can help you plan your trip without any worry. They will make sure that your trip goes exactly as you planned. Please keep in mind that clicking on links in this article may earn us a small commission, but that won’t change the quality of our writing—we only suggest goods and services that we really think will make your travels better.

Ethiopian Christmas Celebration

The Gregorian calendar says that Christmas is on December 25, but the Julian calendar says that it is on January 7, which is when it is in Ethiopia. Many people travel and eat a lot during the Ethiopian Christmas, also known as Gena. It is an important holiday that happens in the middle of the holiday season, which in Ethiopia is marked by nice weather, lots of indoor and outdoor events, and long, bright days.

Local Ethiopian Orthodox churches are where most of the holiday events take place, but Protestants and Catholics are also welcome to join in. The parties on Christmas Eve start well after midnight, and priests and deacons dressed in bright clothes with gold and silver accents sing and chant as they do every year—the large number of people who go to different churches for different services until Christmas morning breaks.

One thing that makes the Ethiopian Christmas party unique is how it relates to Genna, a sport mostly played during the holidays. Ethiopian mythology says that when the shepherds in the Bible’s Christmas story heard that the Messiah had been born, they suddenly started playing a game with sticks similar to field hockey to show how happy they were. Genna’s afternoons are filled with games of this game, which young guys mostly play. People may also be involved in other sports, like horse racing.

There are Christian parties all over Ethiopia for Genna, but the most famous ones are in Lalibela, a historic city. Up to 100,000 pilgrims come here to see the holy rock-hewn cathedrals, which were carved more than 800 years ago. Orthodox priests lead the world up the dangerous cliffs in fancy clothes. A very moving musical show about the birth of Jesus Christ is put on for the congregation. It is unlike anything else in the world. Traditional church drums, the metallic sistrum, and the clapping of pilgrims add to the show with their stronger beats.

Christmas Traditions in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in Africa. It still uses the old Julian calendar, which means that Christmas is on January 7. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the date of Christ’s birth is marked by Ganna, a day set aside for families to go to Church together.

They don’t eat or drink anything the day before Ganna. At early dawn the next morning, everyone is dressed in white. The shamma is the traditional dress of Ethiopia. It is a thin, toga-like wrap made of white cotton with bands of different colors on each end. People who live in cities can wear white Western clothes. After that, everyone goes to the early morning mass at 4 a.m. A few days later, at an after-celebration, priests wear red and white robes and turbans and carry umbrellas with fringes and lots of elaborate embroidery on them.

Most Ethiopians live in round, mud-plastered homes with cone-shaped thatched roofs outside of Addis Ababa, the main city. In places where stone is easy to find, stone houses can be oblong shapes. Ethiopian churches and homes are built in a similar style. Many of the country’s old buildings are carved from solid volcanic rock. A three-concentric-circle layout is common in modern buildings.

Each member of the choir is given a candle, and they all meet in the outside circle of a modern church. The people in the Church walk three times around it, carrying lit candles in a serious procession. Men and boys stand apart from women and girls for the length of the long mass as they make a second circle. The holiest place is in the middle circle, where the priest gives out Holy Communion.

What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas

Why do Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7?

Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on 7 January (Tahsas 29 in the Ethiopian calendar) as the day of Jesus’ birth, alongside the Russian, Greek, Eritrean and Serbian Orthodox Churches. It is also celebrated by Protestant and Catholic denominations in the country.

Today is Thursday, January 7, 2023, and tomorrow is the birth of Jesus Christ in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Christmas, which is also called Ganna or Genna, is a big deal because it happens 12 days before the important holiday of Timkat. Ethiopia marks Christmas on January 7, just like many other Orthodox churches around the world.

Ganna is on the 29th day of Tahsas, the only month in the Ethiopian calendar. January 7 is a big holy holiday in Ethiopia because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers it the day Jesus was born.

Ganna is a religious holiday with unique traditions that emphasize ceremonies and rituals more than giving gifts. People from all over Ethiopia go to and around Ethiopian Orthodox churches to participate in the main rituals, which include special services and processions.

There is a 43-day fast in Ethiopia before Christmas called Tsome Nebiyat, which begins on November 25 and ends on January 7. A lot of people in Ethiopia fast during this time. People eat only one meal a day and don’t eat any meat, cheese, or eggs during this time because it is illegal to eat them while fasting. People in this area wear all white on Christmas Day.

A famous piece of clothing is the Netela, a traditional piece that is worn like a shawl. Ethiopians wear something called a Netela, which is made of white cotton with colored edges sewn in. People wear this outfit on a number of holidays and other special events. Orthodox Christians go to Church on January 6, which is Christmas Eve and is known as the “ahead of Christmas” in Ethiopia because it is a holy day on that day.

What is Christmas Day called in Ethiopia?


The Christmas celebration in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is called Ganna or Genna. Most people go to Church on Christmas day. Many people take part in a special Advent fast during the 43 days before Christmas. It starts on 25th November and is known as the ‘Fast of the Prophets’ (Tsome Nebiyat).

The rest of the world celebrates Christmas on December 25, but Ethiopians celebrate Christmas Day, also called “Genna,” on January 7. This is when the Russian, Greek, Eritrean, and Serbian Orthodox churches do too. In Ethiopia, especially in rural areas, elders dressed in traditional black robes hand out pieces of baked bread to children. This is different from other Christmas customs in which Santa Claus is involved. In Ethiopia, people usually get together with family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy Christmas. A lot of people also go to church events.

Before Genna, Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia fast for 40 days and don’t eat meat, fish, milk, or other dairy items. They break their fast with a feast of chicken, beef, and lamb on Genna Day. In the days before Genna, there were a lot of live chickens on the streets and buses. Sheep also start to show up more often. Different people do different things with sheep. They push, pull, drag, take them on their shoulders, and put them in cabs and car trunks, among other things.

While the “Genna games” or “Ye Ganna Chewata” game is a big part of Ethiopian Christmas traditions, people in towns don’t play it as much. The game has been around for a long time and is a lot like hockey. The myth says that farmers played a similar game with their crooks around the time of Christ’s birth. The link to Christmas comes from the fact that farmers may have played a game similar to Genna with their crooks while keeping an eye on their flocks at night around the time of the celestial event.

How long is Christmas in Ethiopia?


Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January on the Gregorian calendar, or the 29th of Tahsas on the Ethiopian calendar. In the run up to Christmas, practitioners are expected to partake in a 43-day fast known as Tsome Nebiyat or the ‘Fast of the Prophets’.

Ethiopian Christmas is not like the standard Christmas scenes with tangled tinsel, red bobble hats, and flashing lights of many colors on fir branches. It is celebrated on a certain day, January 7 in the Gregorian calendar and the 29th of Tahsas in the Ethiopian calendar.

Tsome Nebiyat, which is also called the “Fast of the Prophets,” is a 43-day fast that followers of Islam do before Christmas. During this time, they only eat one meal a day and stay away from non-vegan foods and psychoactive drugs like booze. Beginning on November 25, the fast is seen as a way to clean up, letting Christians get rid of sin in their bodies in readiness for Jesus Christ’s birth.

Netelas are traditional clothes that people wear to the events. This light white cotton shirt has bands of bright colors on both ends. In Ethiopia, the Christmas Eve evening mass also called the “ahead of Christmas,” starts at around 6 p.m. and lasts until 3 a.m. People line up along the sides of most churches and march around the circle in a long parade led by a choir and traditional instruments like a drum shaped like a tambourine and a sistrum.

Which countries celebrate Christmas on 7 January?

Christmas Day is a public holiday on January 7 in countries such as Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine. Some countries, such as Armenia, observe Christmas Day on January 6.

Since Christian calendars change, the Christmas holiday, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, is held on different dates each year. People who follow the Gregorian calendar, such as Protestants, Catholics, and some Orthodox Christians, have set December 25 as a holiday. Orthodox Christians who use the Julian calendar, on the other hand, celebrate the event on January 7.

People who were pagans used to celebrate the “rebirth” on December 25. But in the fourth century, the Church pushed hard for December 25 to be a holiday, saying it was Jesus’ birthday. Records show that the Roman Empire celebrated the birth of Jesus as early as 325 or 336. In the last few years of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine’s rule, Pope Liberius declared the night of December 24–December 25 to be Jesus’ birthday. This was the first official declaration of Christmas.

Different countries have different Christmas customs. On December 25, people with family in the US, Canada, Albania, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Kenya, and the UK get together for Christmas dinner. In countries where Orthodox Christians are the majority, like Georgia, Belarus, Russia, and Serbia, Christmas is on January 7.

Kids write letters to Santa Claus telling him what toys they’d like to get for Christmas. Gifts that were put under a decorated Christmas tree are given to their owners on Christmas Day. Small children fill big bags with candy and gifts that they hope Santa Claus will bring them.

The Armenian Orthodox Church in Turkey celebrates Jesus’ baptism on January 6, but all churches that are part of the Fener Greek Patriarchate celebrate Christmas on December 25.

What religion is most popular in Ethiopia?

More than two-fifths of Ethiopians follow the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. An additional one-fifth adhere to other Christian faiths, the vast majority of which are Protestant. Islam was introduced in the 7th century and is now practiced by about one-third of Ethiopians.

Ethiopia became Christian for the first time in the fourth century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which is also called Tewahdo in Ethiopia, is one of the oldest organized Christian groups in the world. The Church was the official faith of the ruling class until the monarchy fell in 1974. It had a lot of power in Ethiopian politics and society. It has also kept Ethiopia’s literature and artistic heritage safe.

What Day Is Ethiopian Christmas

The majority of Ethiopian Christians live in the northern highlands, but the Church has an impact all over the country. Most people in Ethiopia are Protestant, but more than two-fifths follow the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the last fifteenth practice different Christian religions. Islam came to Ethiopia in the seventh century, and now, about one-third of the people there follow it. Most of them live in remote places like the Eastern Lowlands. In the past, Islam and Christianity were not on the same level.

During the rule of Haile Selassie I (1930–1974), Muslim problems were taken care of. During the Derg dictatorship (1974–1991), the idea of symbolic equality between the two faiths was pushed. Still, people from outside of Ethiopia and people who live in the highlands see it as “an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam.” Highlanders are worried that actions by conservative Muslims in the area and neighboring countries could make people feel worse about how Islam is becoming more important in Ethiopia.

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