Genna (Christmas)

Genna is the Ethiopian Christmas and celebrated on January 7th. Why not on the December 25th? It is said that date is chosen by Western Christian Churches as Christmas Day to replace popular pagan celebrations in Europe. This is not followed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Although services are held at every church (the more important one on Christmas Eve), Genna is most of all celebrated at home with family. It is the break of (one of the many) fasting periods and lavish meals are enjoyed together.


One place is different though and very much of interest for the visitor. Genna is celebrated very colorful in Lalibela. It coincides with the birth of King Lalibela, the famous founder of this remarkable town. Thousands of pilgrims from all over Ethiopia travel to the town.

On Christmas Day everybody congregate around the Bet Maryam Church. Clergy take position on the cliff and in the courtyard around the church. They are symbolizing the angels (on the cliff) and the herds (in the courtyard) praising the Lord when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.