Culture

It’s Christmas Today in Ethiopia (and Many Other Parts of the World) (Video)

Orthodox Christians celebrate Christ's birth with ancient liturgies and beautiful traditions

Melkam Gena!

That’s “Merry Christmas” in Amharic, in case you didn’t know.

Today in Ethiopia, the majority of people are feasting and celebrating. It’s Christmas for Orthodox Christians around the world, and the majority of Ethiopians are Ethiopian Orthodox. Christianity became the officially recognized religion of Ethiopia in 341 AD, but many claim the faith was brought back by the eunuch mentioned in the New Testament, well before the fourth century.

This video was taken by a visitor who spent Christmas eve and day in Lalibela, Ethiopia, celebrating Christmas with thousands of others, who make the pilgrimage every year to the incredible rock-hewn churches in northern Ethiopia. Beginning on Christmas Eve, which is the end of a long period of fasting, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians begin their services, which consist of chanting and drums, special hymns, dancing, processions with relics, candles, Bible reading and special prayers. After the Christmas liturgy, which goes for at least a few  hours through the night, Ethiopians break their fast and spend Christmas day enjoying feasts of wot (stews) and many traditional dishes, visiting loved ones and playing games. The day is a holiday and primarily a religious celebration.

Around the world, many other Christians are celebrating Christmas too: Russian Christians (almost three-quarters of Russians are Orthodox), the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, among them.

 

Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.