FESTIVAL AND EVENTS IN ETHIOPIA

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FESTIVAL AND EVENTS IN ETHIOPIA
The Ethiopians love to celebrate, whether important events in their history, major landmarks in the religious calendar or simply special family days. Best clothes are worn, food and drink are plentiful, musicians play and people dance and sing.

National holidays are held to celebrate the victory over the Italians at Adwa in 1896, the Liberation from the Italian occupation in 1941 and the downfall of the Derg in 1991.

But it is the major Ethiopian Orthodox festivals that represent the people at their most colourful and festive.

Meskal
is a two-day festival at the end of September celebrating the Finding of the True Cross. Bonfires are lit and singing and dancing take place around them, while the priests don their full ceremonial regalia.

Timkat
Timkat usually falls on the January 19, 12 days after Christmas according to the Julian calendar. Festivities take place the day before as well as the day after. This date varies by a day during leap years. The festival is celebrated throughout the Ethiopian highlands in Orthodox Christian strongholds, but nowhere is it quite as spectacular as in Lalibela, an isolated mountain town in the arid north of the country.

It is a colourful three-day festival celebrating Epiphany and it is marked by the procession of the tabots (the replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, the original of which is said to be in the chapel at Axum ) around the towns, draped in heavy embroidered materials. People bathe in the lakes and splash water over onlookers.

After the ceremony, the tabots are taken back to the churches in procession, accompanied by singing, drumming, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets. Festivities continue throughout the day and into the night. More religious ceremony takes place the following day, dedicated to the Archangel Mikael, after which the priests are fed by their parishioners and young people continue to celebrate into the night.

Other religious festivals are at Fasika (Easter), Inketatash (the New Year in mid-September) and Genna (Christmas in early January). All the Islamic holidays are also celebrated according to the lunar cycle of shifting dates as in other countries

Information kindly donated by Gondarlink