Ethiopian Christmas 2012 | Melkam Gena!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:22 AM EDT, 6 January 2012

ETHIOPIA - At the end of 2011, Jews, Muslims and Christians celebrated major holidays commemorating the end of their religious calendars. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians in the Diaspora celebrate Christmas on the traditional 25th of December. However, all Ethiopians celebrate the holiday on the 7thof January which is the 29th of December on the Ethiopian calendar.

Also known as Liddet, Gena and Qiddus Bale Wold, the holiday actually begins at sundown of the 6th of January with a night long church service. Like Muslims and Jews, the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgical day always begins at sunrise and ends at sunset of the evening before the calendar date. Lidet is significant from a religious perspective, but does not have the commercial overtones that the festival has in Western countries.

Christmas also signals the end of 40 days of fasting which began on Advent (Sibket, in Amharic) and ends on Christmas Eve with the Feast of Gena. Like Muslims who fast for one month without eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown, Ethiopians also fast, but are allowed to consume vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit, varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread. Meat and diary products are only eaten on feasting days i.e. Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and at all other times. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Jews and Muslims do not eat pork as it forbidden by their religious beliefs.

The morning of Christmas begins with a spectacular procession. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast by eating chicken, lamb or beef accompanied by Injera and served in beautifully decorated baskets. It is a very festive occasion filled with joy, family, great food and song.  Watch the video below and enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu83TJAjfoI]

SAMVOD | The Vagaries of Temptation

WASHINGTON, DC - Today in the nations capital it is gray and overcast and people continue to examine and prevaricate about the death of Osama Bin Laden with the latest assertions that he hid behind the skirt of his wife in an effort to avoid being shot. A claim which has subsequently been proven false. In any case since I am going to focus on some serious topics in the next few posts, I thought I would lighten the mood with a video that provides a funny take on the vagaries of temptation.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Melkam Gena | Ethiopian Christmas 2011

Melkam Gena | Ethiopian Christmas 2011

The Ethiopian church places a heavier emphasis on Old Testament teachings than one might find in any of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant churches, and its followers adhere to certain practices that one finds in Orthodox or Conservative Judaism. Ethiopian Christians, like some other Eastern Christians, traditionally follow dietary rules that are similar to Jewish Kashrut, specifically with regard to how an animal is slaughtered. Similarly, pork is prohibited, though unlike Rabbinical Kashrut, Ethiopian cuisine does mix dairy products with meat. Women are prohibited from entering the church during menses; they are also expected to cover their hair with a large scarf (or shash) while in church, per 1 Cor. 11. As with Orthodox synagogues, men and women are seated separately in the Ethiopian church, with men on the left and women on the right (when facing the altar). (Women covering their heads and separation of the sexes in church houses officially is common to some Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians, as well as many conservative Protestant and Anabaptist traditions; it also is the rule in some non-Christian religions, Islam and Orthodox Judaism among them.) Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers remove their shoes when entering a church, in accordance with Exodus 3:5 (in which Moses, while viewing the burning bush, is commanded to remove his shoes while standing on holy ground). Christmas is a public holiday in Ethiopia, and on Christmas Eve's night (Christmas Eve is on January 6, Christmas on January 7), Christian priests carry a procession through town carrying umbrellas with fancy decorations. (Christmas is called Ganna in Ethiopia) Then the procession finally ends at local churches where Christmas mass is held. (Christmas mass can also be held on Christmas morning). Then on Christmas morning, the people open presents and then they play outdoor sports (that are native to Africa) to celebrate. Usually the wealthy shares a medium-sized feast with the poor and a large feast with their family and friends.

Dishes include Doro Wat and Injera. Most people usually put up decorations that symbolize something relating to Christmas, like a male infant to represent the birth of Christ, or a small Christmas tree to represent Christmas decorations. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Featuring images of Ethiopia that are rarely portrayed in the Western media. Like so much of what we are shown of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there is more than meets the eye; greater diversity, cultural richness and fulfilled lives that do not require nor seek the pity of other nations.

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Liddet | Ethiopian Christmas

Liddet | Ethiopian Christmas

January 7, 2010 is the day that Ethiopians will celebrate Christmas. Although there is no direct correlation between a Jewish festival and this date when Ethiopian Christians among others (i.e. Russian, Serb, and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians) celebrate Christmas, I did find a unique minor holiday that reinforced the shared history, Gizret.

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