The festivals of Ethiopia are colorful, fascinating and are all year round. Both traditional and religious festivals are celebrated by its diverse ethnic groups with their picturesque native lives in their most rustic settings.
ENQUTATASH – (ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR CELEBRATION)
This festival is celebrated by all Ethiopians. 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. It is celebrated on the 1st month of Ethiopia (Meskerem) September 11th every year and 12th on a leap year.
MESKEL (THE FINDING OF THE TRUE CROSS)
This festival is celebrated to commemorate the finding of the True Cross. The priests sing religious hymns and chants. So do young deacons and Sunday school members. Their colorful robs and the bonfire made in connection with the celebration, all the people in their traditional clothes make this festival colorful. It is celebrated every year on September 27th. Though the festival falls on September 27th, the celebration is held on the eve. The eve is called Demera, meaning Bonfire. The Bonfire is lit in the presence of tens of thousands of followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church. Its celebration is more colorful in Addis Ababa at Meskel Square.
The festival is more colored by the golden yellow flowers called Meskel Daisies, endemic flowers locally known as “Adey Abeba” which bloom once a year during Meskel.
GENNA (ETHIOPIAN CHRISTMAS)
The Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated colorfully in Lalibela. It is celebrated on January 7th. The reason behind the unique celebration of the festival in Lalibela is that 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 of authentic type. A match which looks like European Hockey but typically Ethiopian is conducted between youth teams of two. The game is named after the festival and is called “Yegena Chewata”.
TIMKET (ETHIOPIAN EPIPHANY)
This festival is staged every year on January 19th 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.
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