Enkutatash, which means “Gift of Jewels” is the celebration of the Ethiopian New Year.  Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of 13 months – 12 months each with 30 days and a final month with 5 days (6 days in leap year).  The Julian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian calendar, which is used throughout most of the Western world.  In 2007 (Gregorian calendar), Ethiopia rang in the year 2000 and the new Ethiopian Millennium with colorful celebrations throughout the country Enkutatash happens to come near the end of a long rainy season, coloring the green landscapes with bright yellow flowers (called the Meskel Flower, or adei abeba in Amharic) and giving great reason to celebrate the new harvest. Torches of dry wood are burned in front of houses on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, girls dressed in new clothes go door-to-door singing songs.  Families and friends celebrate together with large feasts. This day also happens to coincide with the saint’s day of St. John the Baptist.  This religious ceremony can be seen at the Kostete Yohannes church in the village of Gaynt, where celebrations are carried out for three days.  Just outside of Addis Ababa, on the Entoto Mountain, Raguel Church has the largest religious celebration in the country.


Ethiopian Religious Festivals

  • Timket (Epiphany): January 19th Timket, feast of Epiphany, is perhaps the greatest festival of the year, coming two weeks after Ethiopian Christmas. Timket is a three-day affair beginning on the eve of Timket (January 18th) with dramatic and colorful processions. The following morning, Orthodox Christians commemorate and simulate Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The sun shines down from a clear blue sky, and the festival almost always takes place in glorious weather.

  • Lidet (Ethiopian Christmas): January 7th Christmas, known as Lidet, is nothing like the Western version of Christmas seen in Western countries. Lidet is considered a very serious celebration involving a mass service that continues through the night. Followers move from one church to another worshipping until the day of Lidet when Orthodox Christians break fast and enjoy a feast of chicken, sheep and other animals.
  • Meskel (Finding of the True Cross): September 27th Ethiopians have celebrated Meskel for over 1600 years. The word actually means “cross” in Amharic, and the feast commemorates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The original event took place on 19 March 326 AD, but the feast is now celebrated two weeks after Ethiopian New Year’s day in the month of September. In Addis Ababa, the festival begins with a mass in Meskel Square. Followers bring candles and as the sun goes down, the square is full of light. Finally, a towering pyramid of wood is lit in the center of the square. Torches of tree branches tied up together called chibo are used to light the large bonfire known as the Demera. The smoke of the fire is said to have guided Empress Helena to the True Cross of Jesus. Christians then use the ashes to bless themselves and their family members.
  •  FASIKA (Eastern)

    Fasika (Easter) is celebrated after 55 days of severe Lent fasting (Hudade or Abye Tsome). According to Orthodox Tewahedo, Christians do not eat meat and or dairy products for the whole 55 days. Vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit and variations of vegetable stew accompanied by enjera and/or bread are only eaten on these days. The first meal of the day is taken after 3 pm (9 o’clock in the afternoon Ethiopian time) during the fasting days, except Saturdays and Sundays, where a meal is allowed after the morning service. On Easter eve people go to church and celebrate with candles, which are lit during a colorful Easter mass that begins at about 6 pm (12 o’clock in the evening Ethiopian time) and ends at about 2 am (8 o’clock after mid-night Ethiopian time). Everyone goes home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb, slaughtered the previous night after 6 pm, accompanied by enjera and traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Like Christmas, Easter is also a day of family re-union, an expression of goodness.

  • Ramadan (ArabicرَمَضَانromanizedRamaḍān [ra.ma.dˤaːn]), also spelled RamazanRamzanRamadhan or Ramathan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection and community. A commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation, the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.

    Fasting from dawn to sunset is fard (obligatory) for all adult Muslims who are not acutely or chronically illtravellingelderlybreastfeedingdiabetic, or menstruating. The predawn meal is referred to as suhur, and the nightly feast that breaks the fast is called iftar. Although fatwas have been issued declaring that Muslims who live in regions with a midnight sun or polar night should follow the timetable of Mecca, it is common practice to follow the timetable of the closest country in which night can be distinguished from day.



Ashendye is a unique  traditional festival which takes place in august to make the ending fasting called Filseta. This event is mostly for girls and young women, which they   await very eagerly every year. The name of the festival ‘Ashendye’ comes from the name of   a tall grass that the girls make in to a skirt and it around their waist  as a decoration. The young women and girls dress the best traditional dresses called tifitef which is a cotton dress decorated with amazing embroidery from the neck to toe in front  of the dress. The girls also adored themselves with array of beautiful jewellery. After the gather in the village or city centaur they divided in to small groups and they start   from church and they go house to house singing and playing their drums.  They stop at every house and sing and dance for the people in the house. It is customary for people  to give them money, food and drinks and other items for their efforts. They continue the whole day going from house to house and occasionally stooping in a village or city centaur  and singing and dancing for a while before they go on again on their tour.