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Ginbot Lideta (Birthday of St. Marry) at Lalibela, (May 8)

The word ‘Lideta’ means birthday and Ginbot Lideta on Ginbot 1 falling on May 8 commemorates the birthday of St. Mary who was born at the top of the mountain, Debre Libanos.  Her mother, Hanna, was barren for so many years and St. Mary was the only child to her family, born after many years of prayer for fertility.  While praying in a garden, Hanna and Eyakem (mother and father of St. Mary) watched birds playing with their young ones and wept bitterly for not having children. They are said to have complained that God denied them what he gave to all animals (as He didn’t consider them even like birds). 

Fatigued after a long day of weeping, each took a nap while sitting in the garden and each dreamt a different dream. Hanna dreamt a white stick in the hands of Eyakem. Eyakem dreamt the sun in the hands of Hanna. The church teaches that St. Mary was conceived that night. Hanna and Eyakem made a vow to give their children to the temple to serve.

The festival is celebrated with colorful ceremonies in Lalibela starting before the night of May 8 like that of Gena or Ethiopian Christmas. Every orthodox Christian village observes the day in groups at the center of each village or any other convenient place.  For visitors whose schedule is unsuited with Ethiopian Epiphany or Christmas holidays can plan their visit to Ethiopia with us including this great festivity under their program.