Year after year Christians recall the story of the Christ child in a manger, shepherds on Judean hills witnessing the celestial song of angels as they pronounced the Long Expected One had come.Christmas, called Lidet, falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendars (January 7 Gregorian calendar). Ledet is celebrated after 43 days of fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent). The festivity is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 AM and lasts until 9 AM.

The clergy and “Debtera” (scholars versed in liturgy and music of the church) lift their voices in hymns and chant just as it has been for over a thousand years when Ethiopia accepted Christianity. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with Injera and the traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Traditionally, young men played a game similar to hockey, called Genna, on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name.

Addis Ababa, Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and Bahirdar are preferred places to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas; but Lalibela is surely the best!