|Ethiopia - Festivals
Ethiopia has a number of festivals throughout the year starting with, Tseday, which is the time of the Ethiopian New Year which falls on Maskaram 1 or September 11. This is also the beginning of the harvest season which is a time of parties and weddings.
The most unusual of the country's festivals are Kulubi Gabriel, Sheikh Hussein, Gishen Mariam and Sof Umar. Huge crowds arrive to pray for their health, for a new baby, for a special favour, for a good harvest or to give thanks for wishes already granted.
One important festival is Meskai which falls on September 27th and which celebrates the discovery of the true cross by St. Helena, the wife of Constantine the Great. Vast bonfires are lit countrywide the night before the celebration and, on the day itself, there are dances and feasts for everybody present.
Ethiopia's most celebrated festival is Timket, the Epiphany, which falls on January 19th and is the easiest for visitors to witness and enjoy. The holy Tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, is removed from each church around the country the day before the celebration and taken to a central area where the ceremony will take place. The following morning the church officials, resplendant in their gorgeous regalia, assemble around the Tabot and sprinkle holy water over all the Christians present and receive the renewals of their vows. After this is done the congregation follows the bishops, elders and clergy as theTabot is carried back to the church from whence it came.
The most solemn of Ethiopia's festivals is at Easter when the celebrations include the sacred music and dance which is unique to the church, and which are later accompanied by the most solemn and moving rituals during the midnight Mass.