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We don’t have Santa Claus here. We never saw him in the streets carrying big sacks and presenting Christmas gifts for our kids. We never saw the snow falling down on our roofs or on the ground. It doesn’t matter though. We have our own Christmas; a Christmas on which we share big smiles that you wouldn’t see the rest of the year afterward. Let’s just flip through few pages of the Good Book and see how we came to own our own Christmas.

YegenaChewata (the game on Gena)

Carry the clubs and set out to the field for waiting you is the ancient game Gena! Here we have a very interesting story on how we came to have the game.

On the days of Herod, according to the books we were able to consult during the preparation of this writing, the Wise men who travelled in search of Jesus the Son were not just three.  There were twelve tribes each with 100, 000 people. But, on their way they had to fight with ‘armenewoch’ destroying 9 of the tribes. Only three of them were able to survive the battle and keep their journey. Mantusimar, Bedidasphar and Melku were the names of the three leaders of the tribes. The Bible knows them as the Wise Men.

Now, as they cross his land Herod met the wise men. He asked them what they were in search of. Innocent in heart, they told him that they were looking for the king that had been prophesied to be born on those days. Herod asked of them again that they would tell him where the child was born on their way back home. They agreed. On the journey to Bethlehem Herod sent a spy named Roor. He was supposed to go with the wise men to Bethlehem and bring the news of Jesus’ whereabouts to Herod so that he could go there and kill the child for prophesy said that he was the king of Israel.

A star in the sky served the wise men as a guide. But after they met Herod the star was difficult to be seen. This happening vexed the wise men that they cast a lot amongst the leaders of the tribes. It fell on the tribe lead by Melku where the secret agent Roor was brought in to. 

The stranger was found to be the cause for the disappearance of the guiding star. They cut off his head and played with it hitting and passing it amongst them. 

Now, the angel of God appeared in the wise men’s dream and told them to change their route when they went back. They listened to the Angle of the Lord and went back to their land without telling anything about the Child’s whereabouts to Herod. He was so wrathful that he sent soldiers to the land of Bethlehem and slaughtered all the children under two years old.  

As a memory for this happening a game called Yegena Chewata has been played by Ethiopians since Christianity was introduced. The game is played with a stick much like a golf club and a little wooden ball named after the spy – Roor.

YegenaChewata in the olden times of the nation grants a special democracy. It was the rare occasion where a slave and his owner play with equal status. As the saying goes,

’Be GenaChewata

AyekotumGeta’

The literal meaning of which is that on the game of Gena the servant’s owner no matter what happened would not get angry at anyone.

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