Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 11:18 AM EDT, 7 January 2011
Melkam Yelidet Beaal. 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 Gena 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.
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). (Source: Wikipedia)
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