Public Holidays in Ethiopia

Ethiopia, known as the "Land of Origins" and located in the Horn of Africa, is a country rich in history, culture, and diverse traditions. Its public holidays are a reflection of this cultural tapestry, blending ancient rituals with religious significance. Let's embark on a journey through Ethiopia's unique public holidays:

Meskel (Finding of the True Cross - September 27)

Meskel is one of Ethiopia's most celebrated holidays, marking the discovery of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. The holiday involves a mesmerizing procession, with followers lighting bonfires and dancing to commemorate the event.

Timket (Epiphany - January 19-20)

Timket is a grand celebration of the Epiphany, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. In towns like Lalibela and Gondar, the holiday features colorful processions, reenactments, and a ceremonial replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

Enkutatash (New Year - Meskerem 1 - September 11)

Enkutatash marks the Ethiopian New Year, and it is celebrated with vibrant flowers and dancing. The holiday coincides with the end of the rainy season, bringing hope for a bountiful harvest.

Fasika (Easter - Varied Date)

Ethiopian Easter is a significant religious observance, and it often falls on a different date than Western Easter due to the Ethiopian calendar. The holiday involves church services, feasting, and the consumption of injera (a traditional Ethiopian flatbread).

Id al-Fitr (End of Ramadan - Varied Date)

While predominantly Christian, Ethiopia has a significant Muslim population, and Id al-Fitr is celebrated with prayers, feasts, and communal gatherings.

Gena (Christmas - January 7)

Gena marks the Ethiopian Christmas, and it is celebrated with church services, traditional games like Genna (hockey), and special feasts featuring dishes like doro wat (spicy chicken stew).

Victory of Adwa (March 2)

This holiday commemorates Ethiopia's victory over Italian forces in the Battle of Adwa in 1896, safeguarding the nation's sovereignty. The day is marked with patriotic speeches, parades, and ceremonies.

Meskel Demera (Demera - September 26)

The eve of Meskel, known as Meskel Demera, involves the lighting of a large bonfire or "demera." This ritual signifies the direction in which the True Cross should be found, a tradition dating back to the fourth century.

Patriots' Victory Day (May 5)

Patriots' Victory Day honors those who sacrificed their lives during the struggle against Italian occupation. It's a day of remembrance, with ceremonies and wreath-laying events.

Ethiopian public holidays are a captivating blend of religious devotion, historical significance, and cultural traditions. They provide a window into a nation that cherishes its heritage and spirituality, offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere for both locals and visitors to share in their festivities. Ethiopia's unique calendar and celebrations make it a remarkable destination for those seeking a deeper understanding of its people and their profound traditions.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

Ethiopian New Year September 11 Wednesday Public Holiday
The Prophet's Birthday September 16 Monday Public Holiday
Meskel September 27 Friday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 25 September 2023 at 08:56 AM (EST).