Many people from different countries who follow the Julian calendar celebrate Christmas on December 25 and others like in Eritrea who follow the Gregorian calendar celebrate the day on January 7. In Eritrea the Geez calendar is the foundation of all Christian religious occasions like Christmas, Easter, Kudus Yohannes and others.
The Geez calendar is derived from the older Alexandrian calendar. The new year begins from Meskerem first (September) and ends in the added five days of Pagumien (it becomes 6 days in every four years) and every month has 30 days. That means the Geez calendar adds a leap day every four years and that results alternate calculations in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus.
In Asmara Christmas day is celebrated with special occasion. The bells from the Cathedral sound through out the days of the Julian calendar Christmas to that of the Geez calendar, January 7. On top of that the resounding music coming out from the Cathedral and being hear in most parts of the city gives added color to the day and for that matter to the two week long celebrations.
Prior to Christmas, people go for shopping for clothes, gifts and a whole lot of decorations to bring sparkle and light to their homes. Besides this, they also purchase a sheep or a goat, which is slaughtered as a mark of sacrifice.
The best part about Christmas in Eritrea is that families get together and have what ever is prepared for the day. After lunch, they sit around, enjoy a warm cup of coffee and talk about family affairs. Coffee is savored along with popcorn and Panettone, which is a home baked leavened bread. It is a time when families laugh and enjoy these memorable moments together.
The other interesting part of the day, like during every religious holidays, people from different religions celebrate it equally by sending greetings of well wish to each other and extend their hands to the needy so that every one feels the joy of the day.
The Eritrean youngsters celebrate Christmas on 25 December. In this day they would be involved in partying, exchange of gifts, cards as well as celebration with family and friends. Many Eritreans, mainly the elderly, take December 25 as a normal day.
This year the Geez calendar Christmas will be celebrated next Monday. Normally it would happen on Tuesday, the calculation is resulted with the leap year that comes every four years. And members of Shabait wish happy Christmas day to all Eritreans.