Cultural Attractions

Festivals | Itineraries


Celebrations and Festivals play an important part in daily lives. Church ceremonies are major features of Ethiopian life and are impressive and unique. The festivals of Ethiopia are colorful, fascinating and are all year round. Both traditional and religious festivals are celebrated by its diverse ethnic groups.

ENQUTATASH (Ethiopian New Year )

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar that consists 12 months of 30 days each and the 13 th month with 5 and 6 days in leap year. Accordingly the New Year falls on Meskerem 1 or September 11. To herald the New Year, boys offer flower paints to their neighbors and relatives while girls express their wishes for the New Year by going to each family in the neighborhood singing.

MESKEL (The Finding of the True Cross)

Though the festival falls on September 27 th , the celebration is held on the eve. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the finding of the True Cross. The priests sing religious hymens and chants. So do young deacons and Sunday school members. Their robs and the bonfire made in connection with the celebration, make this festival colourful. The eve is called Demera, meaning bonfire. The bonfire is lit in the presence of tens of thousands of followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Its celebration is more colorful in Addis Ababa at Meskel Square.

The festival is more colored by the golden yellow flowers locally known as “Adey Abeba”. They bloom once a year during Meskel, heralding the end of the rainy season.

TIMKET ( Ethiopian Epiphany)

This festival is celebrated every year on January 19 to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by the hands of John the Baptist at the River Jordan. On the eve of the day, Tabots (the Replica of the Ark of the Covenant) are taken out from the holy of holies in all the churches of Ethiopia. And the Tabots are taken to the side of a river or water body for an overnight stay, except the Tabot of Archangel Michael which stays for two nights. The tabots are accompanied with great procession while they are taken out and brought back to their respective churches. The unique and exquisite religious chants and jubilation are created as a result the dances and music from attendees of the ceremony.

GENNA (Ethiopian Christmas)

The Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on January 7 th. The celebration is very colourul in Lalibela. This is because the date coincides with the birth day of King Lalibela. It is an all night celebration in one of the Churches, Bete Mariam. Thousands of pilgrims flock to attend the celebration every year. So are visitors from abroad.

In most rural areas, it is celebrated in various activities like horse race and folk dances. A match which looks like European Hockey but typically Ethiopian is conducted between youth teams of two.


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