Travel to Ethiopia: Christian Festivals

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Ethiopia is undeniably one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to religious history. Over the years, thousands of people travel to Ethiopia to trace their Christianity roots, go on a pilgrimage and be a part of this rich history. Ethiopia’s reference in the Bible goes back to the time when the Queen of Sheba interacted with King Solomon. It is believed that the two then brought forth a lineage that would include great names like Menelik II and the revered Haile Selassie.

Listed below are Ethiopian Festivals that you should consider being a part of during your trip to Ethiopia.

  • Fasika (Orthodox Easter)

14th – 17th April

Fasika is the most important Orthodox festival in Ethiopia. It falls after a 55 day long fast where strictly no meat is eaten. On the eve of Fasika, Church revelers will hold a vigil mass, each holding a candle. On the Fasika D-Day, Christians will wear colorful clothes and cook special foods in celebration. Fasika in Ethiopia is celebrated whole week long. For Palm Sunday, we recommend that you visit Axum.

The Chapel of the Tablet in Axum

The Chapel of the Tablet in Axum

  • Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)

11th September

Amharic for ‘Gift of Jewels’, Enkutatash tends to fall at the onset of spring. During this holiday, the landscapes of Ethiopia are covered with the yellow Meskel flower giving more reason to celebrate the new harvest. On new years eve, families will hold bonfires by their door steps with the youth singing and chanting all kinds of songs to celebrate the new year. To be a part of the largest Enkutatash celebration when you travel to Ethiopia, visit the Raguel Church in Mount Entoto.

  • Meskel

27th September

Meskel is an Orthodox Celebration where Christians celebrate the discovery of the true cross. Legend has it that during the fourth century, the Roman empress Helena, now Saint Helena, lit incense and prayed for guidance. The incense smoke then led her to a location where she dug and found three crosses. One of the crosses was the True Cross. The cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

In Ethiopia, the largest Meskel celebration is held at Addis at the centrally located Meskel Square. The celebration is characterised by large bonfires topped with a cross and decorated with meskel flowers. Revellers sing and dance around the fire. It is believed that the direction of the smoke will predict the happenings of the next year.

Meskel Celebration

Meskel Celebration

  • Genna (Christmas)

7th January

Christmas in Ethiopia is one of the greatest festivals that make tourists travel to Ethiopia. Christmas is celebrated after the 40 days of fasting in Advent. For colorful Genna celebrations, visit Lalibela. Here, you will join the Ethiopians in singing and dancing traditional songs. Thereafter, join your fellow pilgrims for a meal and feast on Ethiopia’s trademark meal, injera.

  • Timket

19th January

Timkat is the most colorful festival in Ethiopia hands down. The festival commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in River Jordan by John the Baptist. For the Ethiopians, it is a chance for them to renew their baptism vows. This pomp festival runs for two days. On the first day, the Ark of the Covenant is taken from the church to a nearby water body. It stays at the water overnight while priests and faithfuls hold vigil throughout the night. The following day, faithfuls are sprinkled with this water, renewing their baptism vows.

Best place to be a part of this festival is Gondar. Join the revelers as they carry the tabot to and from the churches as the Bath of Faislidas provides you with a stunning backdrop.

Gondar Procession

Gondar Procession

For best preparations when you travel to Ethiopia, check out Jumia Travel’s list of hotels and lodges in Ethiopia. Book now, pay later on most hotels!

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