The Ethiopians love to celebrate, whether important events in their history, major landmarks in the religious calendar or simply special family days. Best clothes are worn, food and drink are plentiful, musicians play and people dance and sing . Generally three types of festival; social like coffee ceremony [every ethiopian practice every day], cultural like bull jumping and stick fight in the omo valley and Other religious festivals are a Fasika (Easter), Inkutatash (the New Year in mid-September) and Genna (Christmas in early January). All the Islamic holidays are also celebrated according to the lunar cycle of shifting dates as in other countries Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) But it is the major Ethiopian Orthodox festivals that represent the people at their most colorful and festival.

 

Timkat [EPIPHANY]
Timkat usually falls on the January 19 and20, 12 days after Christmas according to the Julian calendar. Festivities take place the day before as well as the day after. This date varies by a day during leap years. The festival is celebrated throughout the Ethiopian highlands in Orthodox Christian strongholds, but nowhere is it quite as spectacular as in Lalibela, an isolated mountain town in the arid north of the country. It is a colourful three-day festival celebrating Epiphany and it is marked by the procession of the tabots (the replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, the original of which is said to be in the chapel at Axum) around the towns, draped in heavy embroidered materials. People bathe in the lakes and splash water over onlookers.

After the ceremony, the tabots are taken back to the churches in procession, accompanied by singing, drumming, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets. Festivities continue throughout the day and into the night. More religious ceremony takes place the following day, dedicated to the Archangel Mikael, after which the priests are fed by their parishioners and young people continue to celebrate into the night. This is the most colorful event in the year when churches parade their Tabots to a nearby body of water.

This is the commemoration of Christ's baptism, which falls on the 19th of January. The Tabot is taken out in the afternoon on the eve of epiphany and stays overnight with the priests and faithful congregation. The following morning the water is blessed and splashed over everyone in a ceremony where the faithful renew their vows to the church. If the body of water is large enough, some people will immerse themselves. Women who have been unable to have children participate in the ritual for fertility. After the ceremony, the Tabot is paraded back to its Church accompanied by much singing and dancing.

Fasika (Easter)-This is a festival that follows a fasting period of 55 days. During this time, no animal product is eaten and the faithful do not eat anything at all until the daily service is finished at around 3:00 P.M.

The fasting period culminates on the last two and half days long fasting ritual.

 

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)
This is celebrated on the 11th of September. Various Ethiopian peoples have their own new years and respective celebrations.

Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar, in which the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days and 6 days in leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar from January to September and 7 years behind between September 11 and January 8.

Enkutatash means 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 bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku 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 countryside.

 

Maskal [foundation of true cross]
Meskal has been celebrated in the country for over 1600 years. It is celebrated in memory of the finding of the True Cross by Empress Eleni. This is as colorful as Timket, however instead of water the focus of the celebration is a bonfire before topped with an image of a cross to which flowers are tied held on September 27. Priest in full ceremonial dress bless the bonfire before it is lit. This festival coincides with the mass blooming of the golden Maskal Daisies, called Adey Ababa in Amharic, symbolically heralding the advent of a new year after the rainy season is over.

Best places to be witness is Addis Ababa, and at the entire historical route.

 

Genna (Christmas)
This event, falling on the 7th of January, is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another.
Christmas, called Lidet, is not the primary religious and secular festival that it has become in Western countries. Falling on 7 January, it is celebrated after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent) , by a church service and spectacular procession that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another. 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.Best place to witness this festival: Lalibela Traditionally, young men play a game called Genna that is similar to the European hockey.


Hidar Tsion in November
The Virgin Mary is one of the most venerated of all religious figures in Ethiopia. About 33 days are annually dedicated to different celebrations in the commemoration of Mary “ Hidar Tsion” is associated with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in Axum and belief that the Ark itself is a symbolism to her womb.

The festival is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia, making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the “sacred city of the Ethiopians.”

Best place to witness this festival: Axum

If you want to receive the whole lists of religious festivals, please send us your request. Sheik Hussein Besides the globally celebrated Muslim Festivals, the Celebration in honor of this Muslim cleric is observed in the shrine among most of the Ethiopian muslims that come from all over the country