Gena-Ethiopian Christmas that takes celebration to the next level

By Eden Sahle –

Gena Chewata

Addis Ababa – If you ever wish to have Christmas twice a year; your desire just came into reality. Choose from superb Ethiopian getaways in Ethiopian Christmas.

The celebration is exclusive to Ethiopia attracting many from the globe. Locals and travelers gather around in Ethiopia who love festivals, sights and the mouthwatering taste of Ethiopia. The exclusive way of celebration bonds travelers with the local’s culture and tradition creating immerse lifelong experiences.

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar celebrating Christmas on January 7th while the rest of the world celebrates on 25th of December following the Gregorian calendar. Ethiopian Christmas known as Gena* is one of the biggest holidays and a peak festive season and fiesta aligned with best destinations and dishes. Holiday in Ethiopia brings brightest daylight and warmest temperature with a wide array of outdoor and indoor activities.

From the holiday vibe, Gena chewata (traditional hockey game on a horse) to outdoor treasures, museums and handicrafts and holiday markets to visit; it’s the best place which offers tradition and luxury without breaking the bank. If you feel like diving into so much excitement and unique experience Ethiopia is the best place which does not lack anything keeping you adventurous at its world famed destinations for a true sense of African exploration. Discover Ethiopia rap in ancient treasures rocking out to amuse any demanding traveler.

Gena celebration involves a big festivity breaking the two month fasting season for most people from meat and animal products. The holiday cooking includes several culinary varieties blending indigenous hot and sweet ingredients and local breads including Difodabo, Hibest, Anbasha and Kocho.  The holiday dishes comprise of Injera, large flat bread and a variety of spicy stews with beef, lamb and chicken creating a mouthwatering combination. Every household during Gena prepares a distinctive dishes such as Doro stew with boiled eggs, chopped collard seasoned greens, lamb, Kitfo (minced raw beef), Tibs (traditionally seasoned and fried meat) and Gored Gored (cubed raw meat).

Early in the morning of Gena day women dressed up in their traditional clothing and hairdo open the celebration. Its tradition for women to serve the festive cooking’s they prepared during the eve starting from breakfast to dinner. It’s also tradition to decorate homes with grass strewn, popcorn and coffee. Buna (Ethiopian coffee) involves a long process being the popular social norm to bond with neighbors and families. From early in the morning it’s customary to display on the living room a charcoal fire, small clay pot (Jebena), popcorn, local breads and many small ceramic cups arranged upon traditional small wooden table covered with freshly cut green grasses. Usually the celebration starts roasting the beans in the living room allowing families and guests to inhale the refreshing aroma of the coffee vapors.

During the holiday and the following weeks locals continue to dress in their holiday traditional clothing made of cotton decorated by hand creating cultural embroidery. Women also wear big gold and silver jewelries and men dress in traditional clothing and clad with Gabi, local scarf signifying the festive season. Special dressings, cooking’s and festivity continues until January 19 leading to a massive outdoor traditional festival called Timket.

Author: Eden Sahle can be reached at

*Gena is also spelled Genna


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