Genna : Ethiopian Christmas

Genna is Ethiopian Christmas, and coincides with other Orthodox Christmas celebrations around the world.  The feast marks the end of the 40-day fasting period of Advent.  On Christmas Eve, the faithful participate in church services through the night before celebrating with family and friends on Christmas day.

Timkat – Ethiopian Epiphany

Thousands of people - dressed as a sea of white, priests and deacons, bearing golden-rimmed silk robes and umbrellas, performing religious dances and songs accompanied by a slowly building tempo of traditional church drums, leading the crowd in an immensely moving procession: All of which happen on Epiphany Day (Timkat) in Ethiopia.

Fasika: Ethiopian Easter

Fasika is Ethiopian Easter and is celebrated in conjunction with Orthodox Easter celebrations around the world.  Fasika is the most important holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar and follows a long 55-day fast, where no meat or dairy products are consumed.  Strict followers generally consume one meal of vegetables and lentils during this time.  Church services are attended on the eve before the holiday, where revelers participate in a colorful service lit with candles.  The following day, families and friends celebrate Fasika with special feasts that mark the end of the long fast. 

Ashenda / Shadey Festival

Ashenda or Shadey is a festival celebrated starting from August 23rd in the Ethiopian regions of Tigray and Northern Amhara. Ashenda marks the end of a two-week-long fast called “Tsome Fisleta” when adherents of Orthodox Christianity gather to honour the Virgin Mary. The name of the festival Ashenda comes from the name of tall grass that the girls make into a skirt and wear it around their waist as a decoration. The young women and girls dress the best traditional dresses called “Tilf” which is a cotton dress decorated with amazing embroidery from the neck to toe in front of the dress. The girls also adorn themselves with a wide array of beautiful jewellery.

Enkutatash New Year

Celebrated on 11th of September, it is both New Year’s Day and the Feast of St. John the Baptist. The day is called ‘Enkutatash’ meaning the “gift of jewels”. In the eve after dark the people light fires outside their houses.

Meskal: Finding of the True Cross

Now registered with UNESCO as an element of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Meskel (27 September) commemorates the alleged 4th century discovery of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Axum Tsion Mariam Celebration

Celebrated: on Nov 29 &30 

Best places to celebrate: Axum

In the eve fly to Axum and tonight attend the eve ceremony at the Zion (Mariam Tsion) church whereas legend has it the original Ark of Covenant is housed.

The following day early morning, attend the colorful church ceremony at Mariam Tsion; pilgrims from all over the country come to express thanks after the fulfillment of a wish, or in the hope of miraculous cure. Believers wrapped in white shawls besides on this day the pilgrims sing with joy with the priests one after the other and among the swaying choir the priests (usually two) raps on drums, letting out a deep boom and female’s voice respond in a piercing chorus of ululations.