Melkam Gena (Merry Christmas)

Posted: Apr, 7th 2015

Melkam GenA (Merry Christmas)

Gena is the name for Christmas in Ethiopia. Like many other Orthodox's who use the Julian calendar Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. Which is different to the Gregorian calendar which celebrate Christmas on December 25th. 

The word comes from 'Gennana', meaning “imminent” to express the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin. Genna is also the name given to a hockey-like ball game. Legend has it that when shepherds heard of the birth of Christ they rejoiced and started playing the game with their sticks. In some villages men and boys still play the traditional Genna game on Christmas day.

Christmas is a special celebration in Ethiopia. The celebration for many is started with a fast the day before with the service proceeding around 4am the next morning. At the Church men and women sit separately, many dressed in their traditional white costume (shamma). In Ethiopian Churches, many of the congratulation are sat or stood outdoors where they can be heard chanting and praying throughout. Sounds are provided by the choir and the priest who use a sistrum a percussion instrument with tinkling metal disks, makamiya, a long T-shaped prayer stick to keep the rhythm and church drums. The congratulation are given candles to burn and hold during the services.

Christmas is followed by the celebration of Timket (Epiphany) on January 19, a three-day celebration commemorating the baptism of Christ,.

Here at Ethio Beauty Magazine we would like to wish all our Orthodox brothers and sisters, our readers and followers a Melkam Gena today.


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