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Ethiopian Holidays 2014

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The various Ethiopian people’s express themselves in rituals, ceremonies and festivals. Besides the individual festivals of the different ethnic groups, we do have national festivals. Some of these are international, like the various Muslim festivals that are observed globally. Others are religion and political oriented.

Almost all of the festivals play an important role in providing the bond of an individual family and the reunion of extended families. Some of the national festivals display the colorful harmony of the various Ethiopian people’s united under a common theme.  

Religion playing such an important role in the Ethiopian society, festivals and ceremonies provide many high points in the calendar; only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates not less than 150 festivities per year.

The various ethnic groups have their own new years and other festivals and ceremonies, some unique to that culture while others are common to many.

The following are the most famous festivals common to most cultures. Nevertheless, although every festival has some features common to all, each ethnic group has its own version.


Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany)

This is the most colorful event in the year when churches parade their Tabots to a nearby body of water.

This is the commemoration of Christ's baptism, which falls on the 19th of January. The Tabot is taken out in the afternoon on the eve of epiphany and stays overnight with the priests and faithful congregation. The following morning the water is blessed and splashed over everyone in a ceremony where the faithful renew their vows to the church. If the body of water is large enough, some people will immerse themselves. Women who have been unable to have children participate in the ritual for fertility. After the ceremony, the Tabot is paraded back to its Church accompanied by much singing and dancing.

Fasika (Easter)

This is a festival that follows a fasting period of 55 days. During this time, no animal product is eaten and the faithful do not eat anything at all until the daily service is finished at around 3:00 P.M.

The fasting period culminates on the last two and half days long fasting ritual.

Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)

This is celebrated on the 11th of September. Various Ethiopian peoples have their own new years and respective celebrations.


This is celebrated in memory of the Finding of the True Cross by Empress Eleni. This is as colorful as Timket, however instead of water, the focus of the celebration is a bonfire topped with an image of a cross to which flowers are tied.

Priests in full ceremonial dress bless the bonfire before it is lit. This festival coincides with the mass blooming of the golden Yellow Maskal Daisies, called Adey Ababa in Amharic; symbolically heralding the advent of a new year after the rainy season is over.

Genna (Christmas)

This event, falling on the 7th of January, is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another.

Traditionally, young men play a game called Genna that is similar to the European hockey.

Sheik Hussein

Besides the globally celebrated Muslim Festivals, the Celebration in honor of this Muslim cleric is observed in the shrine among most of the Ethiopian Muslims that come from all over the country.


As the world 'is shrinking' into a village, more and more cultures are finding it necessary to interact with each other.

The misconception, distrust and fear that one culture has about the other, is the single most important problem the world is facing these days. We have to know and respect the way of life of others in order to effectively communicate and work with them.

One may not agree with the values and norms of a particular culture, but one has to respect and tolerate them in order to co-exist.

These pages will help you to understand the various peoples of Ethiopia, and their Languages, and how they are able to live with each other in harmony for centuries, despite their differences..

'Ethiopia is a veritable mosaic of peoples. There are over 83 ethnic groups, each speaking it's own language, several of which have not yet been classified by linguists. Although the original physical differences between the major ethnic groups have been blurred by centuries, if not millennia, of intermarriage, there remain many who are distinct and unique. There are a bounty of fascinating costumes, colorful ceremonies and celebrations, arts, crafts, music and dance that distinguish Ethiopia to a diminutive Africa.'


Ethiopia is its peoples

To the discerning traveler, the people of Ethiopia hold as big an attraction as the other natural and historical wonders.

It is beyond the scope of this web page to cover all aspects of the cultural features and histories of the various peoples of Ethiopia.

We just want to point out that it will be very difficult to fully appreciate the magnificence of the various historical and cultural wonders of Ethiopia without understanding the characteristics of the major actors in that history and culture. It will be very rewarding to the serious traveler to have some idea regarding the various peoples among whom he or she will be living and traveling.

During your travels to the northern historic routes, you will be passing among the Amhara and the Tigre and while you are visiting the Eastern Historic routes you will be meeting the Haderes and the Argoba Oromo. During your visit to the south you will be meeting the other Oromo clans, multitude ethnic groups of the southern Ethiopia, focusing mainly on the indigenous cultures of the OMo Valley.

When you will be making the highly demanding and highly rewarding adventure trip to the Danakil, you will be among the Afar people, who are renowned for their ferocity and xenophobia, and have been living in that inhospitable land for over two thousand years.


Real Hospitality

It is usual to find quite a number of beggars and pick-pockets in the big cities. You will, however observe a certain level of pride and dignity among the country-side folks of all ethnic groups. Most are very poor to offer you anything worthwhile, but because of their deep rooted sense of hospitality, they will offer you whatever they have with a smile and genuine good will towards strangers.

As Ethiopia was never colonized, our peoples do not have mixed feelings towards strangers. They do not see them as past colonizers and masters, but as guests. Some of them may show a certain amount of reservations at first, but once they know of your good intentions and that you came just to visit them and know about them, they do welcome you with open arms. As a result you feel a deep sense of being safe all the time.


'Unity with Diversity'

From time to time one may observe minor squabbles among various tribes because of grazing lands or family feuds. Over all, however, these multi-cultured peoples of Ethiopia have been living side by side with each other harmoniously for centuries, despite their cultural and religious differences.

Before Ethiopia was administered under a central government, the various warlords and kings used to fight with each other for loots, dominance and sometimes for the sheer 'adventure' of fighting. Some even yearned for battles because they had the notion that battle-fields were where they can display their bravery for all to see.

The amazing thing is that all the kings, even those that are sworn enemies, will unite under a common front when it comes to standing against external aggressions.

Hence, although the various Ethiopian peoples have their differences, they have much more in common. These common values and heritages bind the Ethiopian peoples together.

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