Festivals & Events
Genna/Ledet or Christmas is celebrated colorfully throughout Ethiopia, but it is particularly striking in Lalibela, the “Second Jerusalem,” the home of the most famous churches and the scene of so many major religious ceremonies.
While the Gregorian calendar celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December, Ethiopia still retains the ancient Julian calendar in which Christmas falls on January 6th/ 7th. People in towns and villages typically dress up in their finest to celebrate.
The Ethiopian name given to Christmas is Ledet – birth – or Genna which comes from the word Gennana, meaning “imminent” to express the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin.
In the evening before the holiday, you will attend the Ethiopian Christmas Eve Ceremony with the pilgrims – people come from all over Ethiopia to participate. The dancing by the deacons and the priests continue throughout the night while the pilgrims clap and ululate to the drum beat. At midnight, there will be a candlelight ceremony to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Genna festivities in the morning of the holiday begin as early as 05:00 am when people gather in churches for mass. For the clergy and most of the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox church it has begun much earlier, 43 days before, with the fasting period leading up to Genna. The fast of advent is carried out to cleanse the body and soul in preparation for the day of the birth of Christ.
We will integrate Christmas in Lalibela with visits to other places on the Historic Route, and/or other parts of the country, the Omo valley, bird watching, trekking and other activities.
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