Festivals In Ethiopia

Epiphany (Timket)

The Timket Festival – celebrating the epiphany – is one of the grandest occasions amongst Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians. The celebration occurs on the 19 of January and commemorates the baptism of Christ. The event comes 12 days after the Ethiopian Christmas (also referred to as Gehenna) with lots of interesting features. The highly revered festival is considered a period of religious sanctification and spiritual revival amongst the orthodox Christians who take the chance to give thanks to God for spiritual nurturing.

Meskel (Finding of the true cross)

Meskel is one of the biggest religious festivals among Ethiopian Orthodox followers that commemorates a fourth century event where Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. This festival is also registered with UNESCO as an element of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)

Genna (also called Liddet) is the Ethiopian equivalent of Christmas, celebrated on the 7th of January every year. The actual Genna celebration is preceded by a night long Vigil following 40 days of fasting where meat, egg and dairy products are forbidden.

During Christmas Eve, there is a church service that runs through the night until 9am. The end of the mass service then heralds the beginning of the Genna celebration and the conclusion of the fasting period of Advent locally known as Tsome Gehad.

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar with 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days (6 in a leap year). It’s for this reason that Ethiopia has been nick-named ‘the country with 13 months of sunshine’.

The Ethiopian New Year, which is eight years behind the Gregorian calendar, falls on the date that the Queen of Sheba allegedly arrived back in Axum after visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem.

Ashenda Festival

There are two distinct groups within the Nyangatom tribe; the eastern group near the banks of the Omo River who have developed agricultural systems and permanent settlements, and the western group near the Kibish Basin who focus mainly on herding, although some cultivation is also carried out. The population of this tribe in total is roughly 7,000.

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