Ethiopia, Egypt join global celebration of Coptic Christmas

Coptic Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt are celebrating Christmas today. The birth of Jesus is a big deal for Coptic faithful around the world.

In Ethiopia, the celebration is referred to as Gena, and is usually a time Christians unite to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

An Ethiopian tourist website wrote about the celebration: ‘‘Gena or Ledet (7 January), the Ethiopian equivalent to Christmas, is preceded by an all-night vigil following 43 days of fasting.

Lalibela: Orthodox Ethiopians gather for Christmas [Photos]

‘‘It is a family-oriented holiday, but in some areas it is marked by traditional dancing or a hockey-like game called Yegenna Chewata, supposedly played by the local shepherds on the night Jesus was born. It is traditional to eat the national dish doro wot (chicken stew) over Gena.’‘

A town at the heart of the festivity is Lalibela – located in the northern Amhara State. The faithful gather around the rock-hewn churches amid the flood of foreign tourists who visit the country at this time.

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Lalibela is famous for its monolithic rock-cut churches. It is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and a center of pilgrimage.

Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7. Among others, those in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, neighbouring Egypt, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Maldova.

Coptic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7 according to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the commonly observed Gregorian calendar.

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