Genna (Ethiopian Christmas)

Officially known by the Church as Baal Lidet (Ethiopian Christmas) is on the 7th of January.


The Ethiopian name for Christmas is Genna, which comes from the word Gennana (eminent) and expresses the coming of the Lord to free mankind of its sins. Genna is also the name of a hockey-like game which is said to have been played by the shepherds when they heard of the birth Christi. Men and boys in villages now play the traditional Genna game with great enthusiasm in the late afternoon of the Christmas day - a spectacle much enjoyed by village communities and elders. Genna begins early in the day, around 6 AM, when people gather in churches for mass.

Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany)

Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany), which falls on the 19th of January is the day when Christians celebrate the baptism of Christ. It's a three-day festival and all the ceremonies are conducted with great pomp. The eve of Timket (18 January) is called Ketera. On this day the tabots of each church are carried out in procession to a place near a river where the next day's celebration will take place. A special tent is set up for each tabot, each hosting a proud manner depicting the church's saint. The ceremony is accompanied by hymns and dances of the priests, drum beating, bell ringing and blowing of trumpets.

The next morning (19 January) around dawn ecclesiastics and believers go to the water and attend the praying. A senior priest dips a golden processional cross in the water to bless it and extinguishes a consecrated candle in it. Then he sprinkles the water on the people in commemoration of Christ's baptism.

The next day (20 January) is the feast of the Archangel Michael, Ethiopia's most popular saint. This morning, his tabot is returned to his church, again accompanied by singing and dancing of priests. This marks the end of the three-day celebration. The best place to attend the event is Lalibela, Gondar or Addis Ababa.