Christmas, which is celebrated on the 7th January, is called Ledet or Genna which comes from the word Gennana, meaning “imminent” and which expresses the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin.
The celebration of Ethiopian Christmas is marked by various activities such as horse racing and authentic folk dancing. At Lalibela, Genna is celebrated in very attractive ways due to the birth date of King Lalibela being on a similar day. In the rural areas a popular game which looks like European Hockey but is typically Ethiopian is conducted between two youth teams. The game is named after the festival and is called "Yegena Chewata".
Christmas is more unique in rural areas than in the cities and it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another.
It is quietly shared and celebrated in groups of friends and family. Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas festivities in Ethiopia and only small gifts are exchanged among family and friends at home. The festive mood usually continues until the late hours of the evening. The joy of giving and sharing, extends beyond religious beliefs and spreads the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind throughout the world.