FESTIVALS

Ashenda - Shadey

Mainly celebrated in Tigrai regions and the time specification refers to 22, August (GC) or 16th August of Ethiopian Calendar. Geographically, this fabulous festivity is specified to Regional state of Tigrai and some part of Amhara.  This annual festival is mainly celebrated by females. Though it is the festival of female young mens also follow them in order to protect them from any harassment. 

This festival is highly attached with Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church. The young and old females celebrate after fifteen days fasting. The fasting is not only concern of the females but also all Orthodox Christianity followers. During the fifteen days fasting, the follower of Ethiopian orthodox Tewado church will never eat animal products. They will start eating and drinking products made up of animal after an intense fasting for consecutive fifteen days. 


Here in this festival, the beauty of girls change miraculously. They became so gorgeous tenfold of than their previous beauty. Based from the change of the Asenda girls, there is local proverb “Kolia Ashenda Rieka Ayttehatse” means “Don’t choose a girl as a fence during Ashenda. The reason behinf this prover is, after a time the beauty of the girls will be changed. During Ashenda many local and international come to Tigrai and actively participate and celebrate with the local people. Besides the door is open to everyone who is interested to participate in Ashenda cultural and religious activities

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Timket - epiphany

This festival is among the UNESCO registered events of Ethiopia. Though, some parts of Ethiopia celebrated this festival intensively all of the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo church celebrate inclusively. The celebration date of this festival is 11th January (Ethiopian Calendar) or 20th January GC.

Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith celebrated Timket also called the Epiphany a holiday commemorating Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River to mark the day, tents called Tabots were pitched to house tablets bearing the Ten Commandments from all churches.

Before the day of Timket or Epiphany the Tabots taken from every churches of a given city and collected in one prearranged place. Prior to the Timket the priests, deacons, and other clergies sign a mass as thank giving for almighty God. Alongside the ordinary people and Sunday students of different churches sing holy songs (Canticle, or Mezmur).

At the mid of the day (it differs from one place to another place) the priests start to distribute a holy water (considered as Spa) to everyone. At the end, the people can take holy water to their home for the family member who failed to participate on the actual festival of Timket. 

Furthermore, Pilgrims come from far and wide to take part in the festival and witness the re-enactment of the baptism. All over the country large crowds assemble as the religious festivities commence, with spectacular processions, song, dance and prayer.

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Meskel

Alike Ethiopian epiphany, Meskel is also UNESCO registered intangible heritage of Ethiopia. Every 17th September (local Dating) or 28th September (GC) Meskel of Ethiopia celebrates.

The holiday is celebrated on September 27 only when it is a leap year. Otherwise, it is celebrated on September 26.  The timing is just two weeks after the Ethiopian New Year which falls on September 11 except in the Leap Year during which the New Year falls on September 12.

 

In addition to that, Meskel in one of the biggest yearly open air religious festivals for the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (also known as Ethiopian Church). It is also celebrated in Eritrea among orthodox Tewahdo church followers. 

 

 In this festival peoples go to church and gather in mass then after the priests’ burn a collection of woods (Demera) and all together waits till the falling of the burnt woods. At the end, the people take a piece of charcoal and make the sign of cross on their forehead. 

 

Since the time when Meskel is celebrated a green time, the festival of Meskel is among the most preferable celebrations of Ethiopia events.

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Hidar Tsion - Aksum

Mariam Zion(Hidar Zion)- Celebration of Saint Mary of Axum is one of themain festivals celebrated in Axum. This festival is celebrated once a year to venerate St. Mary and especially to honor the believed existence of the Ark of the Covenant in St. Mary church of Axum. It is celebrated on November 30th (December 1st in a leap year), Hidar 21 according to the Ethiopian calendar. The celebration starts from the eve of the actual festival date.

St. Mary of Zion claims to contain the original Ark of the Covenant. Reportedly, the Ark was moved to the Chapel of the Tablet adjacent to the old church because a divine ‘heat’ from the Tablets had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum. Emperor Haile Selassie’s wife, Empress Menen paid for the construction of the new chapel.

According to tradition, the Ark came to Ethiopia with Minilik I  after he visited his father King Solomon, whose mother was the Queen of Sheba. Only the guardian monk may view the Ark,in accordance with the Biblical accounts of the dangers of doing so for non-Kohanim. This lack of accessibility, and questions about the account as a whole, has led foreign scholars to express doubt about the veracity of the claim. The guardian monk is appointed for life by his predecessor before the predecessor dies. If the incumbent guardian dies without naming a successor, then the monks of the monastery hold an election to select the new guardian. The guardian then is confined to the chapel of the Ark of the Covenant for the rest of his life, praying before it and offering incense.

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Abreha We Atsbeha - wukro

The church of Abreha and Atsbeha is one of the oldest and best-known rock-hewn churches in Tigray.  It lies in a rural community about 18 km west of Wukro.  To get there you drive north.  Just as you exit Wukro, you take a take a hard left down a long dirt and gravel road which twists and turns up and down the hills and mountains through numerous hairpin turns until you finally reach the church itself.  The trip takes about 45 minutes and is well worth it.  (As of this writing I have been there five times.  I suppose I have become a sort of pilgrim myself).

The church sits on the side (or, rather, “in the side”) of a rocky cliff with a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.  As with the other rock-hewn churches, Abreha we Atsbeha was carved out of the side of the mountain, excavated in one piece.

According to local tradition, this church was chisled out of the mountainside between 335 AD and 340 AD by King Abreha and his twin-brother and co-regent King Atsbeha, whose mother is said to have been from this area.  The church’s claim to antiquity is enhanced by multiple ancient artifacts in the adjoining museum (which in my experience is open only by special request and payment of an appropriate gratuity to the local priest). 

 Supposedly the mummified bodies of the two brother-kings are interred within the Holy of Holies in this church and one of the guidebooks reports that the last priest who tried to open the coffin to take a peek inside had his hands badly burnt by supernatural fire, dissuading further clerical curiosity-seekers from following his example.I would not want to leave the impression that this church is merely a relic or simply a historical curiosity.  

As far as I can tell, this church has been in nearly continuous use for nearly 1800 years (except for a few periods of political instability, about which more later).  For example, we came here on Good Friday this year and there were crowds of people in the vicinity of the church.  (We were told that a funeral had just been held for a recently-deceased local).

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Al nejashi - wukro

Located in the town of Wukro, Tigray State, some 790 km north of Addis Ababa, the Al-Nejashi Mosque, is also the other sacred place of worship, which holds an important place in Islamic history. The Mosque, the tomb of the Abyssinian King Ahmed Nejashi and 15 tombs of the followers of the Prophet Muhammad, is said to be the first Mosque in Africa. Not only that, but by Ethiopian Muslims, it is also hailed as the second site of worship after Mecca.

As documents indicate, the Mosque is named after Nejash, who hosted companions of the Prophet who escaped persecution in Mecca. This is here the first Hegira took place by the companions of the prophet following persecution and torture in Mecca.

The spot though is an important historic and religious center and the number of people visiting the mosque is increasing from time to time; compared to other similar sites, according to Culture and Tourism Bureau of Tigray.

The Negash or Al-Nejashi Mosque is as old as the faith of Islam.

Negash, Ethiopia’s first Islamic settlement, was established in the 7th century AD by Muslim refugees who escaped persecution in Mecca, including close relatives of Prophet Mohammed, during his lifetime. The tombs of 15 of the original settlers are protected in a new mosque.

Al-Nejashi is considered by many as one of the most sacred places of Islamic worship and rightly dubbed by some as “The 2nd Mecca”.

The Ethiopian Christian king’s generosity, his refusal to betray the first small community of Muslims to their Meccan persecutors, his befriending of and correspondence with the Prophet, and his contribution to the latter’s victory, left a special message of gratitude for Islam and presented Ethiopia as a model of universal humanity and grace.

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