Authentic Ethiopia Tours
Festivals in Ethiopia
Festivals in Ethiopia

Enkutatash, Ethiopian New Year, September 11

Enkutatash means the "gift of jewels". When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with Inku or jewels. This festival celebrates both the New Year and the Feast of John the Baptist at the end of the long rains in spring, when the Highlands become covered in wild flowers. Children dressed in new clothes dance through the villages, distributing garlands and tiny paintings. In the evening every house lights a bonfire and there is singing and dancing.

But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday. Today's Enkutatash is also the   season for     exchanging formal New Year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated - in lieu or the traditional bouquet of flowers.

Maskal- Finding of the True Cross, 27 September

The word actually means "cross" and the feast commemorates the discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Alexander the Great.  On the eve of Meskal, tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called Meskal Flowers, are placed at the top. During the night those branches are gathered together in front of the compound gates and ignited - This symbolizes the actions of the Empress who, when no one would show the Holy Sepulcher, lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted, she dug and found three Croses. To one of the three, on the True Cross of Jesus, many miracles were attributed.  Meskal also signifies the physical presence of part of the True Cross at the church of Egziabher Ab, the remote mountain monastery of Gishen Mariam located 483 kms north of Addis Ababa in Wello administrative zone.

In Addis Ababa, the celebration takes place in Maskal Square, to the southeast of the City centre.

The best place to celebrate Meskal with  a mass of local people is at the official square in Addis Ababa – Meskal Square.

Ethiopian Christmas (Genna), January 7

Christmas, called Lidet, is not the primary religious and secular festival that it has become in Western countries. Falling on 7 January, it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another. Traditionally, young men played a game similar to hockey, called genna, on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name. As King Lalibela was born on the same day, the festival will be very colorful in Lalibela.
Tour for festivals can be combined with any tours.

Timket, The Feast of Epiphany, January 19

Timket, feast of Epiphany is the greatest festival of the year falling on the 19 January just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair beginning on the eve of Timket with dramatic and colorful processions. The following morning is the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily. The sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the festival of Timket always takes place in glorious weather. The Popular Sport place in Addis at “Jan meda”, Gonder and Lalibela are the places where the celebration taken place very colorfully.
Tour for festivals can be combined with any tours.


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 St Gabriel's Church on Kulubi hill, which is on the route from Addis Ababa eastwards, about 70 kilometres before Dire Dawa. Many pilgrims carry heavy burdens as penance, children are brought to be baptized, and offerings are made to be distributed to the poor.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:40