Mayo Ethiopia Tours

Mayo Ethiopia Tours

Festivals and Events

I. Christian festivals

  • Ethiopian New YearEnkutatesh (New Year Celebration); The Ethiopian New Year falls on September11; at the end of the big rains. The sun comes out to shine all day long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air. The highlands turn to gold as the Meskal daisies burst out in their entire splendor. Ethiopian children--clad in brand-new clothes--dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household.

    The day is called Enkutatash meaning the "gift of jewels." When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with enku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. After dark on New Year's eve people light fires outside their houses.
  • Ethiopian MeskelMeskel (the finding of the true cross): is said to be in memory of the finding of the true cross by Empress Eleni of Ethiopia.Bonfires are lit throughout the country the night before the celebration and on the day of the celebration there is a bonfire topped with an image of a cross, to which flowers are tied. Priests in full regalia bless the bonfire before it is lit. This festival coincides with the mass blooming of the golden yellow "Meskal Daisies", called Adey Abeba in Amharic.
  • Hidar Tsion (St. Mary celebration in Axum); it is colorfully celebrated every year November 30. The celebration takes place for the coming of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. It was also on this day the first historical St. Mary church was built with 12 sanctuaries.
  • Genna (Christmas) officially known by the Church as Baal Lidet (Ethiopian Christmas) is on the 7th of January.Lidet or Gena, the Ethiopian Christmas is not the primary religious and secular festival that it has become in Western countries. Falling on the 7th of January, it is celebrated seriously by a Church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one Church to another. Traditionally, young men play a game similar to hockey called Gena on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by this name.
  • Ethiopian TimketTimket (Ethiopian Epiphany), which falls on the 19th of January is the day when Christians celebrate the baptism of Christ. This is the greatest festival of the year, falling on 19 January, just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair, beginning on the Eve of Timkat with dramatic and colorful processions. The following morning the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. The third day is devoted to the Feast of St. Michael, the archangel, one of Ethiopia's most popular saints.
  • Fasika (Easter), it is the celebration of Jesus Christ resurrection. This festival is observed after 55 days of fasting. During this time, no animal product is eaten. The faithful do not eat anything at all until the daily service is finished at around 3 in the afternoon. From Thursday evening before Good Friday, nothing is eaten until the Easter-service ends at 3 in the morning on Easter Sunday.

II. Muslims Festivals

  • Id Al Fatar (Id-ul-Fitr) means the 'festival of breaking the fast'. The fast of Ramadan is broken with special prayers and festivities. 'Fitr' is derived from the word 'fatar' meaning 'breaking'. Another connotation suggests that it is derived from fitrah or 'alms'. Certain Sunni Muslims believe that fitr comes from fitrat meaning 'nature' and Id-ul-Fitr is the celebration of god's magnanimity in providing nature to man. Celebrated on the first day of the new moon in Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramadan.
  • Eid al Adhha this religious event begins about 70 days after the end of Ramadan and is dedicated to Abraham's sacrifice of a sheep in place of his son. This event lasts for four days.
  • Birth of Prophet Mohammad/Maulid; The birthday of the founder of Islam is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy in all Muslims country throughout the world. However the date for the holiday changes every year because Islamic holidays are based on the Hijri calendar.

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