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Bete Abraham Hotel © 2014, Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia, P. O. Box 61

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Bete Abraham Hotel

Lalibela Ethiopia

Meskel (Finding of the True Cross)

Meskel is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Demera". Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17 Ethiopian calendar (September 27 Gregorian calendar), 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolizes the events carried out by Empress Helena. According to tradition, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region. The monastery of Gishen Mariam holds a volume of a book which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired.


Ethiopian Christmas (Lidet or Genna)

Ledet (Christmas) falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendar (January 7 Gregorian calendar). Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent), with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 AM and lasts until 9 AM. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with injera and the traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Ethiopian Christmas is colorfully celebrated in Lalibela at the rock hewn church of Bete Mariam (The House of St. Mary) by an overnight chanting and the early morning ecclesiastical dance and chanting by the deacons, priests and the cantors who all wear typical traditional cloth and climb on to the surrounding courtyard rock hill known as Mame Gara that encircle the church of St. Mary. The day marks both the birth of Jesus Christ and King Lalibela and it is why thousands of pilgrims make their pilgrimage to the site for this particular ceremony.


Timket (Baptism of Christ)

Timket (Baptism of Christ) and many writers quote it as Epiphany, which is one of the greatest festivals in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church calendar. It commemorates Christ's Baptism by Saint John in the Jordan River. Timket is celebrated in Ethiopia on January 11 Ethiopian calendar (January 19 Gregorian calendar), two weeks after Ledet (Ethiopian Christmas), beginning on the Eve of Timket with colourful processions and ceremonies ending on the January 12 (January 20 Gregorian calendar). In Timket, Tella and Tej are brewed, special bread is baked called "Himbash" (in Tigrigna) "Ambasha" (in Amharic), and sheep are slaughtered to mark the three-day celebration. The holy arks are carried out of the churches by the high priests serving at the churches being accompanied by all the clergymen and the laities.   


Fasika (Ethiopian Easter)

Fasika (Easter) is celebrated after 55 days severe Lent fasting (Hudade or Abye Tsome). Orthodox Tewahido Christians do not eat meat and diary products for the whole 55 days. Vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit and varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread are only eaten on these days. The fist meal of the day is taken after 3 PM (9 o'clock in the afternoon Ethiopian time) during the fasting days, except Saturdays and Sundays, where a meal is allowed after the morning service.

On Easter eve people go to church and celebrate with candles which are lit during a colorful Easter mass service which begins at about 6 PM (12 o'clock in the evening Ethiopian time) and ends at about 2 AM (8 o'clock after mid-night Ethiopian time). Everyone goes home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb, slaughtered the previous night after 6 PM, accompanied with injera and traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Like Christmas, Easter is also a day of family re-union, an expression of good wishes with exchange of gifts (i.e. lamb, goat or loaf of bread)  


ST. GEORGE’S MARTYRDOM DAY Celebrated only 7 days after TIMKET celebration and that is celebrated only at the rock-hewn church of Bete Ghiorgis  in Lalibela and we have two 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 like swarm of bees…And the laities mainly remain on the hills surrounding the church of Bete Ghiorgis and the priests and deacons remain at on the surrounding edges of 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.  


SENE MIKAEL  

It is celebrated on June’s 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 many by the locals living in Lalibela and the surroundings of Lalibela area and it take place in the church of “Bete Debre Sina- we- Golgotha” where the king is buried.


Other Ceremonies

ENKUTATASH: Ethiopian New Year, September 11

DEBRE ZEIT: Mid fasting season of Lent

GINBOTE MARIAM: The Birth of St. Mary on May 9

DEBRE TABOR: Buhe August 21