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Celebrations and festivals play an important role in Ethiopia’s daily life and Ethiopia’s calendar marks numerous ancient (religious) festivals which are a truly unique experience for visitors of the country. The following is an overview of Ethiopia’s festivals and celebrations, elaborating on the most famous and colorful ones.

St. Mary’s Day

On: 30/Jan/2015

Fall of the Derg regime

On: 28/May/2015

Paraklitos

On: 06/Jun/2015

St. Michael’s Day

On: 19/Jun/2015

Death of Petrus & Paulus

On: 12/Jul/2015

St. Gabriel’s Day

On: 26/Jul/2015

Ludeta Mariam

On: 07/Aug/2015

Buhe

On: 19/Aug/2015

Kidane Mihret Day, our lady of Perpetual

On: 22/Aug/2015

Aregawi

On: 25/Aug/2015

Archangel Raphael

On: 08/Sep/2015

Enkutatash, Ethiopian New Year

On: 12/Sep/2015

Meskel, finding of the True Cross

On: 27/Sep/2015

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Meskel, finding of the True Cross

One of Ethiopia’s more popular attractions to catch the eye and interest of tourists is the yearly Meskel celebration. The September Meskel Festival marks the finding of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The festival is ancient, dating back over 1,600 years. It is celebrated with yellow Meskel daisies placed on top of huge bonfires that are lit in the evening in front of the throngs of celebrants. The main Meskel celebration includes the burning of a large bonfire, the Demera, in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. This takes place on the eve of Meskel, and is based on the belief that Empress Eleni, the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, had a revelation in a dream. She was told that she should make a bonfire and that the smoke would show her where the True Cross was buried. She ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood, and after adding frankincense, the bonfire was lit and the smoke rose high up to the sky. It then fell back to earth and returned to the ground, swirling around at the exact spot where the Cross had been buried.

During the celebration of the Finding of the True Cross, ornately robed priests carrying silver crosses dance with their followers around the fires singing and chanting and carrying flaming torches. Sunday school students dressed in traditional Ethiopian plain white clothes furnish color to the event by singing hymns and presenting colorful spiritual and artistic religious shows to the crowd. Millions of followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrate Meskel every year throughout the country. The festivities also mark the end of the three-month long rainy season and the return of summer to Ethiopia. No rain is expected to occur after Meskel – and indeed it is rare for this to happen. The scenery of this religious festival is a feast for the senses and for the soul.

St. Mary’s Day

On: 02/Oct/2015

Abo Day

On: 16/Oct/2015

St. Michael’s Day

On: 22/Nov/2015

Hidar Zion Procession

On: 01/Dec/2015

Genna - Ethiopian Christmas

On: 08/Jan/2016

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Genna - Ethiopian Christmas

Ethipian Christmas, also known as Lidet, falls on January 7th or 8th. With brightly colored celebrations across the country. Church services go on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another. In addition, individual households celebrate with traditional foods and drinks and, especially in the villages, an indigenous sport called Genna – a wild, free form of country hockey played over vast distances – sees rival villagers trying to drive a puck into their neighbor’s territory.

Genna can be celebrated with religious ceremonies in Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and Addis and in all the country’s major cities and towns. In Lalibela, the celebrations have a different touch, as January 7th is also the birthday of King Lalibela and so the celebrations include colorful processions.

Timket / Epiphany

On: 20/Jan/2016

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Timket / Epiphany

Timket is Ethiopia’s most popular and energetically celebrated festival that takes place just two weeks after Christmas, on January 19th for three consecutive days. Beginning on Ketera the eve of the special day, the festival is of a different content to that of the Western calendar in that it commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

On the eve, all the tabots (Arks of the Covenant) from nearby churches are taken in a Majestic procession, led by priests in their vibrant regalia, to a central location. Many people stay there overnight with the priests and engage in singing and dancing until the day of Timket. The day’s celebration is accompanied by the deep sounding beat of priest’s drums, joyful traditional dances and choir singing as the tabots are taken in procession through the large crowds and returned to the churches.

The third day is another celebration dedicated to St. Michael and also Cana, in Galilee, which recalls the first miracle performed by Jesus, when he returned water into wine.

The festival can be conveniently celebrated by visitors in Addis Ababa, Axum, Gondar, Bahir Dar and Lalibela, as well as all other major towns and cities.

Kindane Mihret Procession

On: 24/Feb/2016

St. George Day

On: 02/Mar/2016

Adwa Victory Day

On: 03/Mar/2016

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Adwa Victory Day

Ethiopian’s army historic victory over invading Italian troops in the battle of Adwa which led to successfully protecting the country from colonization.

Festivities take place throughout the country with official ceremonies in Addis Ababa, and Adwa, the historical market town located near the battle site.

Patriots Victory Day

On: 05/Mar/2016

Abo Day

On: 16/Mar/2016

Hosanna Procession, Palm Sunday

On: 24/Apr/2016

Good Friday

On: 29/Apr/2016

Labour Day

On: 01/May/2016

Fasika, Ethiopian Easter

On: 01/May/2016

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Fasika, Ethiopian Easter

Fasika (Easter) is one of the most colorfully celebrated festivals in the ethiopian Orthodox church and is a festival that marks the end of a fasting period of 56 days during which it is not allowed to consume animal and dairy products.

On easter eve, celebrations take place in church with candles which form an important part of the Easter Mass service which begins at about 6 pm and ends around 3 am after which people go home to break their fast.

Ludeta Mariam

On: 09/May/2016

Fall of the Derg regime

On: 28/May/2016

Paraklitos

On: 06/Jun/2016

St. Michael’s Day

On: 20/Jun/2016

Death of Petrus & Paulus

On: 13/Jul/2016

St. Gabriel’s Day

On: 27/Jul/2016

Kidane Mihret Day, our lady of Perpetual

On: 23/Aug/2016

Archangel Raphael

On: 09/Sep/2016

Enkutatash, Ethiopian New Year

On: 11/Sep/2016

Aregawi

On: 24/Sep/2016

Meskel, finding of the True Cross

On: 26/Sep/2016

Read details

Meskel, finding of the True Cross

One of Ethiopia’s more popular attractions to catch the eye and interest of tourists is the yearly Meskel celebration. The September Meskel Festival marks the finding of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The festival is ancient, dating back over 1,600 years. It is celebrated with yellow Meskel daisies placed on top of huge bonfires that are lit in the evening in front of the throngs of celebrants. The main Meskel celebration includes the burning of a large bonfire, the Demera, in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. This takes place on the eve of Meskel, and is based on the belief that Empress Eleni, the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, had a revelation in a dream. She was told that she should make a bonfire and that the smoke would show her where the True Cross was buried. She ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood, and after adding frankincense, the bonfire was lit and the smoke rose high up to the sky. It then fell back to earth and returned to the ground, swirling around at the exact spot where the Cross had been buried.

During the celebration of the Finding of the True Cross, ornately robed priests carrying silver crosses dance with their followers around the fires singing and chanting and carrying flaming torches. Sunday school students dressed in traditional Ethiopian plain white clothes furnish color to the event by singing hymns and presenting colorful spiritual and artistic religious shows to the crowd. Millions of followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrate Meskel every year throughout the country. The festivities also mark the end of the three-month long rainy season and the return of summer to Ethiopia. No rain is expected to occur after Meskel – and indeed it is rare for this to happen. The scenery of this religious festival is a feast for the senses and for the soul.

St. Mary’s Day

On: 01/Oct/2016

St. Michael’s Day

On: 21/Nov/2016

Hidar Zion Procession

On: 30/Nov/2016