Genna “Ethiopian Christmas

Genna Ethiopian Christmas

Genna is Ethiopian Christmas. It coincides with other Orthodox Christmas celebrations around the world.  The feast marks the end of the 40-day fasting periods of Advent. On Christmas Eve, the faithful participate in church services through the night. This is before celebrating with family and friends on Christmas day.

Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. It is called Lidet or Genna in Amharic. Genna comes from the word “Gennana” meaning “imminent”. Which expresses the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin.


The celebration of Ethiopian Christmas is marked by various activities. Almost Horse racing and authentic folk dancing are the main ones. Genna is celebrated in very attractive ways in Lalibela. Because of the similarity of the birth date with King Lalibela, on of the most famous leader in the ancient Ethiopian history. In the rural areas a popular game is conducted between two youth teams. It looks like European Hockey but is typically Ethiopian. The game is named after the festival and is called “Yegena Chewata”.

Christmas is more unique in rural areas than in the cities. It is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night. Many people move from one church to another wearing white cloths & attend religious occasions. 

It is quietly shared and celebrated in groups of friends and family. Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas festivities in Ethiopia and only small gifts are exchanged among family and friends at home. The festive mood usually continues until the late hours of the evening. The joy of giving and sharing, extends beyond religious beliefs and spreads the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind throughout the world.

Lalibela is the most popular place to celebrate Genna, as thousands of pilgrims flock to the holy city for this celebration. 

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