Festivals

Festivals:

Religion plays an imperative part of life in Ethiopia, Especially the Orthodox Church ceremonies are unique and impressive; principally Gena or Lidet (Ethiopian Christmas), Timket (Epiphany) and Meskel (The finding of the true cross in which Christ crucifix) are among the most important festivals which provide colorful ceremonies and celebrations. During festivals People dress in traditional costume made of cotton by weaving, we organize well-crafted tour program that meet important festivals with other tour packages according to your interest.

More Articles...
• Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)
• Meskel (Finding of the True Cross)
• Genna (Christmas)
• Timkat, (Feast of Epiphany)
• Fasika (Easter)
• Kulubi (Feast of Saint Gabriel)
• Axum Hidar-Zion (Celebration of St. Mary)

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year):

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year):-falls on (Meskerm 1) the first month of the year in Ethiopian calendar or September 11 Gregorian calendar at the end of the Ethiopian rain season.

Enkutatash- which means the "gift of jewels" When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive trip to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolt by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since this early time and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. Today's Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal New Year greetings and cards with beloved once.

Meskel (Finding of the True Cross):

The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17 Ethiopian calendar (September 27 Gregorian calendar), Meskal has been celebrated in the country for over 1600 years. The word actually means "cross" and the feast commemorates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The feast is now celebrated on 27 September.

Many of the rites observed throughout the festival are said to be directly connected to the legend of Empress Helena. On the eve of Meskal, tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called Meskal Flowers, are placed at the top. During the night those branches are gathered together in front of the compound gates and ignited - This symbolizes the actions of the Empress who, when no one would show the Holy crypt, lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted, she dug and found three crosses. To one of the three, on the True Cross of Jesus, many miracles were attributed.

Meskal also signifies the physical presence of part of the True Cross at the church of Egziabher Ab , the remote mountain monastery of Gishen Mariam located 483 kms north of Addis Ababa in Wello administrative zone.

During this time of the year flowers gloom on mountain and plain and the meadows are yellow with the brilliant Meskal daisy. Dancing, feasting, merrymaking, bonfires and even gun salutes mark the occasion. The festival begins by planting a green tree on Meskal eve in town squares and village market places. Everyone brings a pole topped with Meskal daisies to form the towering pyramid that will be a beacon of flame. Torches of tree branches tied up together called "Chibo" are used to light the bundle called "Demera". Addis Ababa particularly Meskal Squire is the best place to celebrate the festivals.

Genna (Christmas):

Genna (Christmas) falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendars (January 7 Gregorian calendar). Ledet (Christmas) , it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent), with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 AM and lasts until 9 AM. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with injera and the traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Traditionally, young men played a game similar to hockey, called genna , on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name.

Timkat, (Feast of Epiphany):

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 the Ethiopia's most popular saints.

Enormous effort is put into the occasion. Tej and tella (Ethiopian mead and beer) are brewed, special bread is baked, and the fat-tailed African sheep are fattened for slaughter. Gifts are prepared for the children and new clothes purchased or old mended and laundered. Everyone--men, women, and children--appears resplendent for the three-day celebration. Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequined velvet umbrellas.

On the eve of the 18 January, Ketera, the priests take away the tabots from each church and bless the water of the pool or river where the next day' celebration will take place. It is the tabot (symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments) rather than the church building which is consecrated, and it is accorded extreme reverence. Not to be desecrated by the gaze of the layman, the engraved wooden or stone slab is carried under layers of rich cloth.

In Addis Ababa, many churches bring their tabots to Jan Meda (the horse racing course of imperial day) accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. The tabots rests in their special tent at the meadow, each raise a proud banner depicting the church's saint in front.

The priests pray throughout the long cold night mass is performed around 2:00 a.m. huge crowds of people camp out, eating and drinking by the light of flickering fires and torches. Towards dawn the patriarch dip a golden cross and extinguish a burning consecrated candle on the altar, then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism. Many of the more fervent leaps fully dressed into the water to renew their vows.

Following the baptism the tabots start back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue at Jan Meda. The procession winds through town again as the horsemen cavort alongside, their mount handsomely decorated with red tassels, embroidered saddle cloths, and silver bridles. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing, leaping priest and young men, while the beating of staffs and prayer sticks recalls the ancient rites of the Old Testament.

Fasika (Easter):

Fasika (Easter) is celebrated after 55 days severe Lent fasting (Hudade or Abye Tsome).according to Orthodox Tewahedo Christians do not eat meat and dairy products for the whole 55 days. Vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit and varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by Enjera and/or bread are only eaten on these days. The fist meal of the day is taken after 3 PM (9 o'clock in the afternoon Ethiopian time) during the fasting days, except Saturdays and Sundays, where a meal is allowed after the morning service.

On Easter eve people go to church and celebrate with candles which are lit during a colorful Easter mass service which begins at about 6 PM (12 o'clock in the evening Ethiopian time) and ends at about 2 AM (8 o'clock after mid-night Ethiopian time). Everyone goes home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb, slaughtered the previous night after 6 PM, accompanied with Enjera and traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Like Christmas, Easter is also a day of family re-union, an expression of good wishes with exchange of gifts.

Kulubi (Feast of Saint Gabriel):

The feast of Saint Gabriel (kulubi Gebriel), the Archangel, is celebrated on December 19 Ethiopian calendar (December 28 Gregorian calendar) which culminates in a pilgrimage to Kulubi a small town, about 68 kilometers from Dire Dawa. Orthodox Tewahedo Christians mark the celebration with colourful processions and ceremonies. Pilgrims walk up the hill to the church to fulfill a vow and give gifts to the church. Normally this festival is attending with the combination of Harar, eastern historic route.

Axum Hidar-Zion (Celebration of St. Mary):

The 16th Century Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion was probably built on an earlier 4th century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia. In its sanctuary is said to lest the original Ark of the Covenant and the belief that the Ark itself is a symbolism to Her Womb. It is celebrated on November 30 and attended by tens of thousands of religious people from all over Ethiopia, making it one of the most Joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the “Sacred City of the Ethiopians”.

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