ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX FESTIVALS

After 43 days of fasting known as the advent or Tsome Gahad, Ethiopians celebrate their Christmas. The Genna festivity starts in the early morning (6:00 a.m.) with people gathering in churches for the mass service culminating in a spectacular procession of the Tabot (a replica of the Ark of the Covenant) carried on the top of the priest’s head. After this ceremony, people gather at home with their relatives to feast and break their fast with typical Ethiopian food such as Doro Wat, a spicy chicken stew served with injera, a sourdough pancake-like bread and accompanied with tej, a local drink made from honey or tella, made from barley. One of the most popular places to witness this holiday is Lalibela, that receives pilgrims from all over the country to end up chanting and praying around the famous rock-hewn churches during the night.

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A 55 day period of fasting known as Hudade or Abye Tsome concludes with the celebration of the Ethiopian Easter or Fasika. During this period, Orthodox Christians do not eat meat or dairy products and the first meal of the day is taken after 3 p.m. during the fasting days, except Saturdays and Sundays, where a meal is allowed after the morning mass service. On the eve of Fasika, people gather in the church with candles to attend the mass service that starts at 6 p.m. and ends around 2 a.m. After the service, people go home to break the fast with chicken or lamb, accompanied with injera and traditional drinks. Like other Ethiopian religious festivals, Easter is colourfully celebrated in Axum and Lalibela.

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A 55 day period of fasting known as Hudade or Abye Tsome concludes with the celebration of the Ethiopian Easter or Fasika. During this period, Orthodox Christians do not eat meat or dairy products and the first meal of the day is taken after 3 p.m. during the fasting days, except Saturdays and Sundays, where a meal is allowed after the morning mass service. On the eve of Fasika, people gather in the church with candles to attend the mass service that starts at 6 p.m. and ends around 2 a.m. After the service, people go home to break the fast with chicken or lamb, accompanied with injera and traditional drinks. Like other Ethiopian religious festivals, Easter is colourfully celebrated in Axum and Lalibela.

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According to the legend, Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the holy cross that was used for Christ’s crucification. Unable to find the sepulchre, it is believed that she lit torches and prayed for assistance, when the smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She found three crosses and one of them was the True Cross. A piece of this Holy Cross was giving to an Ethiopian Church, located in the highlands of Dessie. Ethiopians have been celebrating the discovery of the True Cross for centuries. One of the most popular celebrations is held in Addis Ababa, in Meskel Square, with a colourful parade followed by a mass service. When it starts to get dark, candles are lit and church leaders light a big demera or bonfire.

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The fast of Ramadan is broken with special prayers and festivities. Fitr is derived form the word fatar meaning “breaking”. Certain Muslims believe that fitr comes from fitrat, meaning “nature” and Eid al Fitr is the celebration of God’s magnanimity in providing nature to the man. Celebrated on the first day of the new moon in Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramadan.

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FESTIVALES MUSULMANES (la fecha varía)

The fast of Ramadan is broken with special prayers and festivities. Fitr is derived form the word fatar meaning “breaking”. Certain Muslims believe that fitr comes from fitrat, meaning “nature” and Eid al Fitr is the celebration of God’s magnanimity in providing nature to the man. Celebrated on the first day of the new moon in Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramadan.

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This religious event begins about 70 days after the end of Ramadan and is dedicated to Abraham’s sacrifice his son Ibrahim as an act of obedience to God. This event lasts for four days.

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RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS

Being part of religious festivals is the best way to experience the Ethiopian culture since these events play an important role in Ethiopian’s daily life. Thus, many of our travellers try to schedule their trip to coincide with important festivals such as the Ethiopian Christmas (Gennaor the Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash). Most of the religious events in Ethiopia are part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and even though they are widely celebrated throughout the country, there are unique ceremonies held in important cities such as Timkat in Gondar, Christmas in Lalibela and Meskel in Addis Ababa. Also, the Islamic holidays are celebrated based on the lunar calendar and thus they fall at different dates each year. If you want to witness the faith of Ethiopians during their festivities, we have listed the main religious events with the possibility to be integrated into one of our itineraries.

Note that all itineraries are flexible and they can be modified or combined with other itineraries according to your interest, time and budget.
Please contact us for further information.