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GENNA (Ethiopian Christmas)

It is celebrated on the 7th January every year and many thousands of pilgrims are attracted to this particular site, which is considered by the Christian World as the New Jerusalem and pilgrims making their pilgrimage to this site consider that the blessings they get from their almighty God by going to the New Jerusalem equals to going to the Holy Land (Jerusalem) in Israel and this is stated in the Hagiography of King Lalibela.
The other importance of making pilgrimage to Lalibela during Ethiopian Christmas is the coincidence of King Lalibela’s birth with the birth date of Christ so it is considered double celebration that take place at the same day in the courtyard of Bete Mariam Church in Lalibela.
The name of the particular rocky hill surrounding the church of Bete Mariam by embracing the churches of Bete Maskal and Bete Denaghel is known as “Mamie Gara”, which is a spot where all the clergies that had climbed for the chanting and melodies that is being chanted facing tens of thousands of pilgrims surrounding the churches by having worn in white “The traditional Shema Cloth with a red stripe” carrying cestrum, prayer sticks, and drums, which makes it very attractive celebration that assure tens of thousands of pilgrims to be attracted every year in search of God’s blessings.


This is one of the major celebrations of Ethiopian Christians and the Holy Arks of the churches are taken out of the rock-hewn churches to the place where the arks rest on the eve of TIMKET festival annually and the Holy Arks are carried up to the particular place where all the clergies are attending the overnight chanting and the laities also spend the night safeguarding the tent where the Holy Arks rest for overnight. On the 19th January (During the Celebration Day) the holy arks are carried back to the churches by the presence of all the laities of the Lalibela town and laities from the surroundings, colored by the parasols and the clergies who stop at different designated spots for chanting and melodious chant of the hymn on their way back to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.


Celebrated only 7 days after TIMKET celebration and that is celebrated only at the cruciform rock-hewn church of Bete Ghiorgis  in Lalibela and we have too many pilgrims from the surrounding villages and vicinities of Lalibela and that is very colorful celebration that take place by the clergies and the laities surrounding the church of St. George swarming around it and the laities mainly remain on the hills surrounding the church of Bete Ghiorgis and the priests and deacons remain on the surrounding edges of the rock encircling the church so everyone can see the clergies who are chanting the melodies of the hymn. And at last the locals climb down through the tunnel in to the compound of the church and they contest shoulder dance to get blessings from the patron saint.


It is celebrated in June on St. Michael’s day and mainly in commemoration of King Lalibela’s day of death. The celebration begins from the eve night and there is an overnight program to translating the “Geez Written Hagiography of King Lalibela” to the laities in which this book, which is locally known as “Gedle Lalibela” is being read once a year on this particular day. This celebration is notable celebration mainly by the locals living in Lalibela and even pilgrims come from the surroundings of Lalibela area and some percentage of pilgrims come far away counties in northern highlands of Ethiopia. The celebration takes place in the church of “Bete Debre Sina- we- Golgotha” where king Lalibela is buried.