Festivals, Holidays and Celebrations in EthiopiaFestivals in Ethiopia are celebrated with great pump and are colorful events often lasting several days. Important Christian holidays include Timket, Meskal, Ethiopian Christmas and Ethiopian New Year. The most important Muslim festival is the 'Idd Al Fatr.
Refer to: Festival Tours
Meskel, one of the major Ethiopian orthodox festivals is celebrated on 27th September and lasts for two days. Legend says that the cross upon which Christ was crucified was discovered in the year 326 by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Unable to find the holy artifact, she set up long poles and set them on fire. Skyward raised the smoke and down it bent, touching the spot on the earth where the original cross was found buried. Queen Helen lit up torches heralding her success to the neighboring areas.
Baptism of Christ, 19 January
Timket is the greatest festival of orthodox Christians in Ethiopia. Falling on the 19 of January (or the 20 of January once in every four years), it celebrates the baptism of Christ in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. It's a three-day affair and all the ceremonies are conducted with great pomp. The eve of Timket (18 January) is called Ketera. On this day the tabots of each church are carried out in procession to a place near a river where the next day's celebration will take place. A special tent is set up for each tabot, each hosting a proud manner depicting the church's saint. The ceremony is accompanied by hymns and dances of the priests, drum beating, bell ringing and blowing of trumpets.
At this time the highlands turn gold with the yellow flowers of the Meskal daisies. The sun comes out creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean sir. Children dressed in new clothes dance through the villages, distributing garlands, greetings and tiny paintings to the households. In the evening, in rural areas, every house lights a bonfire and there is singing and dancing.The New Years day is also called Enkutatash, meaning 'the gift of jewels'. The name comes from a gift the chiefs of Queen Sheba made her, when she returned from an expensive journey from Jerusalem. The main religious celebration takes place in Gaynet, near Gondar, in the 14th century Kidus Yohannes Church. Three days of prayers, psalms and colorful processions mark the advent of the New Year.
In Addis Ababa, the largest celebration takes place in the Raguel Church, on top of Entoto Mountain, about 10 km from the city centre.
The Ethiopian name for Christmas is Genna, which comes from the word Gennana (eminent) and expresses the coming of the Lord to free mankind of its sins. Genna is also the name of a hockey-like game which is said to have been played by the shepherds when they heard of the birth Christi. Men and boys in villages now play the traditional Genna game with great enthusiasm in the late afternoon of the Christmas day - a spectacle much enjoyed by village communities and elders. Genna begins early in the day, around 6 AM, when people gather in churches for mass.
KullubiFeast of St. Gabriel, 28. December
St. Gabriel is the Patron Saint who guards over homes and churches. There is a huge pilgrimage to the St. Gabriel's church on the Kullubi hill, about 70 km from Addis Ababa near Dire Dawa. Many pilgrims carry heavy burdens as penance, children are brought to be baptized and offerings are distributed to the poor.