Ethiopian Orthodox To Celebrate Christmas

January 6, 2014

Bermuda’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church will be celebrating Christmas this evening [Jan 6], and have invited all visitors to join them in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition.

The difference of date is due to the use of the Julian calendar, whereas the western world uses the Gregorian calendar under which Christmas is observed on December 25th.

A spokesperson said, “Christmas is a major holy day in Ethiopia, where more than half of the population is Orthodox Christian. The celebration occurs on January 7th preceded by a fast of 40 days.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church  clergy picture

“Lidet or Genna is the Ethiopian name for Christmas and is marked by special ceremonies. The difference of date is due to the use of the Julian calendar which is based on the year of Grace 7 or 8 years after Anno Domini [the year of Our Lord].

“The calendar in use in the west is the Gregorian calendar under which Christmas is observed on December 25th.

“Here in Bermuda we celebrate in the tradition of the ancient Ethiopian Church. Our divine liturgical service begins at 9:30pm sharp on Christmas Eve with scripture readings and special prayers. The church is specially decorated with Christmas flowers and other festive decorations.

“This is the time that the clergy wear their best vestments and the service begins with the procession of the Ark which is held on the deacon’s head and is covered with elaborate cloths. This procession involves the clergy going around the church three times before the Ark is placed back on the altar.

“Christmas is a full service which means that there will be communion towards the end following the Preparatory service and the Anaphora. The service is based on the Christmas story and lasts for 2-3 hours.

A slideshow of the intricate icons at Bermuda’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church

“At the end of service attendees greet each other, exchange Christmas salutations and everyone then gathers at the hall for an elaborate feast with lots of food, drink, music and celebration until the sunrise.

“The period after Christmas until Epiphany [January 19th] is a time for members to visit one another.

“All visitors are welcome to come and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [Eyesus Christos] in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition.

“We invite you to join us for our Lidet Christmas Service on Monday 6th 2014 at 9:30pm followed by our Traditional Christmas Feast after service. Merry Christmas.”

The Church is located on 16 Old Military Road, St. Georges.

Update: Photos of the ceremony can be found here.

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