Video: Ethiopian Church’s Christmas

December 2, 2011

Bermuda’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church is inviting locals heading to the East End tonight [Dec. 2] for the National Trust Christmas walkabout to visit the Debra Ganet Immanuel Cathedral to learn about their traditions — including the fact they do not officially celebrate until next month.

Ethiopia still follows the ancient Julian calendar, so the church’s Christmas falls on January 7.

“The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth is called Ganna,” said a church spokesman [the African church's traditional cross is pictured here] . ”It is a day when families attend church. The day before Ganna, people fast all day. The next morning at dawn, everyone dresses in white.

“Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. The shamma is worn somewhat like a toga. Then everyone goes to the early mass at four o’clock in the morning.”

In a celebration that takes place several days later, the priests will dress in turbans and red and white robes as they carry beautifully embroidered fringed umbrellas.

Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church begins the three-day celebration called Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ.

Debra Ganet Immanuel Cathedral is located on Old Military Road opposite the Police barracks. For further information, contact the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at 297-8411.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church Traditional Christmas Song

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