Ethiopian Paradox on Christmas tree

Addis Ababa January 06/2019 the evergreen Christmas tree is among the most commonly used trees for the decoration of Christmas festivity across the world.

Decorating homes during wintertime using evergreen conifer tree started long before as a symbol of life amid the dark, cold winter nights.

Conventionally, it has been used to celebrate winter festivals to beautify homes during the mid of winter, which is an omen of the spring influx.

Most people use Christmas tree as an advent of the New Year, hope and getting out from the darkness of rainy season to luster of the winter.

According to old transcriptions, no one really sure when and where the Christmas tree is first used but it is estimated that it probably began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe.

In Ethiopia, especially in urban areas, there was a random home décor using natural pine tree and putting tissue paper or cotton, candies, snow balloons and picture of Jesus on it.

As times passed by, the natural Christmas pine tree has been replaced by artificial ones, which they look much more realistic and festive during the holiday season.

Though people in the urban areas of Ethiopia have been decorating their homes using Christmas trees, there is no historical, traditional or religious background to decorate homes with evergreens in the country.

According to some residents of Addis Ababa, who talked ENA, there are paradoxes of using Christmas tree as a beautification for the Christmas festivity.

Sada Belay, who is a shopkeeper in Northern part of Addis Ababa, has the custom of decorating her home with fir trees during Christmas holiday.

“I like to decorate my home by Christmas trees, balloons dim lights and other decoration materials, if I am not using that, I feel like the holiday is not fulfilled,” she said.

She further said that “I know that it’s not totally our culture, and I don’t know where it comes from, but it gives me comfort to furnishing my home with Christmas trees.”

A young business woman, Almaz Gebru, is selling flowers, Christmas trees, and other décor materials for the Christmas festivity in her small shop around ‘Semen Gebeya’ market place.

Almaz said that the market for Christmas tree is very attractive, and many local traders are rushing to joining the business.

“The market is very promising; I sold many Christmas trees and their associate décor materials,” Almaz stated and adding that “I believe the culture is totally an Ethiopian because I am 20 years old and I have grown-up seeing Christmas trees from my childhood.”

“I used to décor Christmas trees before I stopped three years ago after I realized that the act doesn’t have any biblical or traditional backdrop in Ethiopia,” Bereket HileMichael who was shopping closes for the holiday in Piazza.

For Hiwot Mulat Christmas tree is imprudent as it is not cultural heritage in Ethiopia tradition.

“We Ethiopians have our own ways of celebration, Christmas tree is not our culture, so I advise my kids not to be adherence to such practice rather I prefer to teach them Ethiopian way of holiday celebration, she said.

According to Holy Abune Aregawi, Ethiopian Orthodox Church External Relation Head the Western Church celebrates the birth of Jesus by decorating Christmas tree to exemplify that Jesus Christ is the tree of life.

But, he said, “as Ethiopian Orthodox Church we do not advice people to celebrate Christmas like that, because we have bible based holiday celebration process.” 

Holy Abune Aregawi said that Ethiopians have their own ways of Charismas celebration, riding horse and playing hockey, which is commonly known as “ ye Gena Chewata” taking benediction from churches near to their home, gathering and eating together are among indigenous holiday celebration of the country.