World, Africa

Celebrating unique Xmas Ethiopians push electoral peace

In benediction, patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church says peace should be foremost as May elections approach

Addis Getachew   | 07.01.2020
Celebrating unique Xmas Ethiopians push electoral peace Orthodox Christians, who celebrate new year on January 7th, prepare for the new year at the exhibition center at Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 03, 2020. ( Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency )


With a much anticipated, high-stakes election just a few months away, Ethiopian Christians on Tuesday celebrated their own unique Christmas celebration based on an ancient calendar.

Ethiopia, a country that has its own alphabet and calendar system, is unique in that not only Orthodox Christians but all Christian denominations observe Christmas in January, on the 7th or 8th depending on the leap year.

In a benediction, Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch Abuna Mathias said peace should be foremost on everyone’s mind as the country prepares for elections.

Violence and killing are being common in many parts in Ethiopia based on ethnic or religious affiliations, undermining the age-old tradition of peaceful coexistence.

In Christmas greetings, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said: “Ethiopia is our manger of pride. Diverse communities, thoughts, religions, cultures, histories, languages, and knowledge have made Ethiopia their common abode.

All the nationalities residing in Ethiopia’s manger are adorned with the glory of being Ethiopian.”

He added: “Being Ethiopian, just like the manger in Bethlehem, is where division, separation and enmity lose ground. There are always those like Herod who would try to destroy Ethiopia’s unity and attempt to build enmity. They are terrified with the light in the manger, frightened with its glory, discomforted by its unity, and troubled by its love and peace.”

Ethiopians observe holidays by coming together and enjoying special treats such as homemade bread, honey wine, raw meat and doro wat, a special hot chicken stew.

Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, cardinal of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, called on the public to work to maintain the unity of the nation, avoid hatred, and stick to the culture of peaceful coexistence.

Pastor Tsadiku Abdo, head of the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia, said: “We all should discharge our responsibilities to bring peace by distancing ourselves from violence especially at this very time when an election is looming large.”

Ethiopia is set to hold general elections this May.

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