While the rest of the world was busy feasting and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ (How old is He by the way), the Orthodox community in which Ethiopia and Eritrea are major members were waiting for 7th of January to celebrate theirs.
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday wished all Orthodox Christians in the country a ‘Merry Christmas’, urging them to celebrate the day by ‘eliminating separation and divisions’.
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar and celebrates Christmas on January 7th, while the rest of the world, who follows the Gregorian calendar, celebrates on 25th of December.
The difference in the timing of the Christmas celebrations stretches back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII, ruled that the Catholic Church should follow a new calendar called the Gregorian calendar, as it was closer to the solar calendar than the Julian calendar.
The Julian calendar had been established by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.
Because it was the Catholic pope who ruled on the adoption of the new calendar, many churches not aligned to the papacy ignored it, such as Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. Protestants accepted the new calendar in the early 1700s.
In 1922, the patriarch of Constantinople decided that the Gregorian calendar should be followed for the observance of Christmas, but not for Easter, and this edict was followed by many of the other Orthodox churches.
Ethiopians are predominantly an Orthodox Community together with Eritrea.
The only Orthodox churches that still observe the January 7th date are the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian churches, the Serbs and the Mount Athos monks in Greece
Today, many of the Ethiopians, Eritreans and Christians in the Northern half of Africa, are celebrating their Christmas to mark the birth of baby Jesus.
Several other countries including Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan and across the world celebrate the Orthodox Christmas, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Ethiopian Christmas Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
‘‘Diverse communities, thoughts, religions, cultures, histories, languages and knowledge have made Ethiopia their common abode,’‘ Abiy said in a message whose theme was unity.
‘‘There are always those like Herod who would try to destroy Ethiopia’s unity and attempt to build enmity.’‘
Abiy, who took office in April 2018 has championed several reforms in the social, economic, political and diplomatic sphere, earning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Ethnic tensions that have displaced millions of million are however a huge threat to his reforms.
Orthodox pilgrims attend a Christmas Eve celebration at Bet Medhane Alem. The Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas, called Ledet or Genna, attracts pilgrims from across the country. The 11 rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are Unesco world heritage sites.
Also read: 8 Signs That You Have an Iodine Deficiency
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.