Epiphany Celebration of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church is registered by UNESCO as a world intangible heritage site on 11th December 2019. This festival commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the hands of John the Baptist in the river Jordan for blessing the waters for the children of Adam.
Ashenda Festival in Ethiopia
Ashenda is Amhara and Tigray peoples traditional festival which takes place in August 22. The name of the festival “Ashenda” comes from the name of a “tall grass” that the girls make in to a skirt and wear it around their waist during the holiday.
Meskel /Demera/ – Ethiopian Religious Festival
Meskel is one of the major orthodox Christians religious festivals and falls on September 26/27 G.C every year. This festival registered by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, went to Jerusalem from Constantionple in 325 AD to helping poor Christians. While in Jerusalem, Helena had a dream in which she was told to light a bonfire and the smoke would indicate where the true cross was hidden.
Meskel celebrations include burning of Demera (a mammoth bonfire) to signify the fire that was lit by Queen Helena. It is often said that God spoke to the queen in a dream and asked her to make a large fire and use the direction of its smoke to find the location of the Christ’s Cross. So, the queen ordered her followers to gather all the firewood they could get to make a giant pile. She then added frankincense to the pile and lit it. A huge cloud of smoke went up high in the sky and fell back to the ground, right at the location of the cross.
Ethiopian Orthodox Christians commemorates the discovery of the true cross. According to local traditions, this Demera- procession takes place in the early evening the day before Meskel or on the day itself. The Demera (firewood) will be burned after being blessed. Charcoal from the remains of the fire is afterwards collected and used by the faithful to mark their foreheads with the shape of a cross with some believing that it “marks the ultimate act in the cancellation of sins”.
Happy Ethiopian New Year 2011 E.C – Enkutatash
Ethiopia has its own calendar with 13 months, and each of the 12 months has 30 days, and the13th month called Pagumen has 5 or 6 days in leap year. The new year occur on 11th September according to the Gregorian calendar, which is 1st Meskerem on the Ethiopian calendar. The Ethiopian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian calendar.
As it comes with change of the season, the New Year in Ethiopia is celebrated with new hope, and the people are making special preparations.
Ethiopian New Year comes at the time when the heavy rainfall starts to cease, and the bright sun comes to shine over the green land, which is also covered by the golden flower known in Amharic language as “Adey Abeba“.
Enkutatash means the ”gift of jewels”. The story goes back almost 3,000 years, When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit king Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her by replenishing her treasury with Inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and, as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard in every village in the green countryside.
The date traditionally marks the end of the season of heavy rains and also marks the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia after her visit to king Selomon in Jerusalem. Enkutatash is an important festival for the Ethiopians as it also symbolizes the advent of good harvest weather.