Orthodox Christian, Rastafarian: Welcome the Nativity

Traditional sports are common on Christmas Day in EthiopiaFRIDAY, JANUARY 7: The majority of Christian churches ended the Christmas season with Epiphany yesterday—but some Churches are celebrating the Nativity of Christ today. Orthodox Christians who follow the older Julian calendar will be exchanging Christmas greetings today, and Rastafarians worldwide will be joyfully shouting “Melkam Yelidet Beaal!” or “Merry Christmas!” in traditional Ethiopian tongue. Nativity fasting comes to an end today for Russian Orthodox Christians overseas, and for those and Serbian Orthodox Christians, Christmas means a table with white cloth; straw strewn on the dinner table to symbolize Christ’s bed; and candles lit to represent Jesus as the light of the world. (Wikipedia has details.) Today is a day of peace and unity.

Perhaps the only place where a Nativity scene can be set up with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wise men, collectively, is in some Armenian Apostolic churches; today combines both the Nativity and the Feast of the Epiphany into one. Coptic Christians across Africa sing carols today, and because Ethiopia is considered the spiritual homeland of Rastas, the followers of Haile Selassie I celebrate Christmas today, too. (Find more Julian dates on a site for the Coptic Christian Church.)

The hundreds of millions of Christians in Africa observe Christmas rather differently than Christians on other continents do. Due to the poverty in Africa, few gifts are exchanged at Christmas; rather, many use extra money on a new outfit to wear to Christmas liturgies. African children often play carols in a community using homemade instruments, and feasts including various meats are hosted. (Rastafarians eat vegetarian feasts in compliance with Rasta food laws.) As Africa is hot, many families go to the beach, barbecue and enjoy time outside on Christmas! Some worshippers will celebrate the Nativity in ancient buildings carved from volcanic rock.

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