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Festivals, Holidays and Celebrations in Ethiopia

Festivals 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.

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.

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.

For people brought up in the northern hemisphere, Christmas is traditionally associated with the snow and ice of winter. In the southern hemisphere and equatorial regions, of course, the festival is held in much warmer weather. But snow or sun, people of many nations has celebrated Christmas yet again, although not necessarily on the same day. The Gregorian calendar celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December while Ethiopian Christmas falls on January the 7th - a hot summer's day - , since Ethiopia uses still the Julian calendar. While excitement over Christmas festivities dies down in other parts of the world in Ethiopia it is just beginning.

Kullubi

Feast 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.