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Ethiopian Major Religious Festivals
Religion plays an important part of life in Ethiopia. The Orthodox Tewahedo Church ceremonies are unique and impressive; especially Timket and Meskel festivals which provide colourful ceremonies and celebrations. People dress in traditional costume and celebrate festivals across the country with colourful unique ceremonies such as Enkutatash (New Year), Meskel (Finding of the True Cross), Ledet (Ethiopian Christmas), Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) and Fasika (Easter). Islamic tradition also celebrates religious festivals in the Ethiopian calendar, notably, Muharram, Milad-an-Nabi and Eid-ul-Fitr.

Christian Festivals
Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)
Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) falls on September 11 th at the end of the Ethiopian rain season and is called Enkutatash. September 11 th is also celebrated to mark the commemoration of Saint John the Baptist. Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) is not only a religious holiday but it also a day for young boys and girls to sing and dance and for exchanging New Year greetings among urban and rural inhabitants.

ITINERARY-

  • Focus: New Year procession and Southern Ethiopia Cultural route
  • Code: PET1E1

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Arrive Addis
In Addis (New Year procession)
Drive to Langano
Drive to Arbaminch
In Arbaminch
Drive to Jinka
Excursion to Mursi tribal village
Drive to Turmi
Excursion to Dasenetch Village
Drive to Yabello
Drive to Wendo Genet
Drive back to Addis and departure

HIDAR ZION - (Celebration of St. Mary of Zion)

The Virgin is one of the most venerated of all religious figures in Ethiopia.
About 33 days are annually dedicated to different celebrations in the commemoration of Mary. "Hidar Zion" is associated with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in Axum and the belief that the Ark itself is a symbolism to Her womb.
This festival is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia, making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the "sacred city of the Ethiopians."

ITINERARY

  • Focus: Celebration of St. Mary and Northern Historic Route
  • Code: PET1H1

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Day 10 - 

  

Arrive Addis
Fly to Axum (Processions at night)
In Axum (Celebration of St. Mary)
Fly to Lalibela
In Lalibela
Fly to Gondar
Drive to Bahir Dar
In Bahir Dar
Fly to Addis
Sightseeing tour and departure 

GENNA - (Christmas)

Year after year Christians recall the story of the Christ child in a manger, shepherds on Judean hills witnessing the celestial song of angels as they pronounced the Long Expected One had come.
Celebrated on January 7th and preceded by a fast of 40 days, on the eve of Christmas people gather in churches for mass that lasts about 3 hours.
The clergy and "Debtera" (scholars versed in liturgy and music of the church) lift their voices in hymns and chant just as it has been for over a thousand years when Ethiopia accepted Christianity.
After mass, the fast is broken so the clergy and crowd alike disperse to their homes to feast. Food and drink is plentiful, with many homes preparing special meals that are characteristic to all big festivities highlighted on the Ethiopian calendar.


ITINERARY

  • Focus: Ethiopian Christmas, Northern Historic Route and Harar
  • Code: PET1G1

Day 01
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Day 09
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12 

  

Arrive Addis
Fly to Lalibela (Eve of Christmas Day Celebration)
In Lalibela (Christmas Day Celebration)
Fly to Axum
Fly to Gondar
In Gondar- Excursion to Simien Mountains NP
Cross Lake Tana to Bahir Dar
In Bahir Dar- excursion to Blue Nile Falls 
Fly to Addis
Fly to Dire Dawa and drive to Harar
Drive to Dire Dawa and fly back to Addis
Sightseeing tour and departure 

TIMKET - (Epiphany)

Timket is the greatest festival of the Ethiopian year, falling just 2 weeks after Ethiopian Christmas.
It is actually a 3-day affair preceded by the eve of Timket when the dramatic processions take place through a night of fasting, to the great day itself and the commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River.
Ketera, the Eve of Timket is when the Priests bring out the Tabots - replicas of the  tablets of laws received by Moses, which are normally housed inside the altar symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant.
Priests bless the water of the pool or river where the next day's celebration will take place.
It is the Tabot, rather than the church building which is consecrated and given extreme reverence. Visitors have the unique chance to experience a festival lost to the rest of the world.

ITINERARY

  • Focus: Timket festival in Gondar and Northern Historic Route
  • Code: PET1T1

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Arrive Addis
Fly to Bahir Dar
Drive to Gondar- (Timket Celebration)
In Gondar- (Timket Celebration)
Fly to Lalibela
In Lalibela
Fly to Axum
Fly back to Addis
Sightseeing tour and departure 

Fasika (Easter)

Fasika (Easter) is celebrated after 55 days severe Lent fasting (Hudade or Abye Tsome). Orthodox Tewahedo Christians do not eat meat and diary products for the whole 55 days. Vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit and varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread are only eaten on these days. The fist 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 colourful Easter mass service which 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 with injera and traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Like Christmas, Easter is also a day of family re-union, an expression of good wishes with exchange of gifts (i.e. lamb, goat or loaf of bread).
This, in dramatic contrast to the brilliant jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequined velvet umbrellas, make this festival entirely splendid.

ITINERARY

  • Focus: Easter Celebration, Northern Historic Route
  • Code: PET1E1

Day 01
Day 02
Day 03
Day 04
Day 05
Day 06
Day 07
Day 08
Day 09 

  

Arrive Addis
Fly to Lalibela (Good Friday)
In Lalibela (Easter Eve Celebration)
In Lalibela (Easter Day)
Fly to Gondar
In Gondar - excursion to Simien Mountains NP
Cross Lake Tana to Bahir Dar
In Bahir Dar- excursion to Blue Nile Falls
Fly back to Addis, sightseeing tour and departure 

Gishen Mariam Festival around Dessie; October 1 While the whole country celebrates the finding of the True Cross on (September 26th & 27th ), the commemoration of the deposition of the right arm of the True Cross at the remote mountain monastery of Gishen Mariam (in the present Sothern Wollo Zone, Amhara Region), makes the celebration there especially colorful. The occasion is observed with the largest and most spectacular intensity on October 1st each year.


Annual Festival of Gabra-MenfesKidus at ZequalaAbbo Monastery; October 15: The annual day of AbunaGabraMenfesKidus is celebrated colorfully on Tikimt 5 (October 15) at a monastery founded by the same saint in the 12th century AD at a high top volcano Mountain of Zequala, some 80 kilometers South of Addis Ababa.


Islamic Festivals
Eid-Ul-Fitr-end of the fast
Ramadan is the holy month for all Muslims and has a special place in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is known as God’s own month and is followed by all Muslims religiously. Ramadan is also known as the month of fasting when fasting for all adult Muslims is mandatory. But Ramadan is not just about fasting but incorporates worship and doing good deeds also. The Holy Quran originated during this month is a source of the Divine wisdom. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fasts during the day during the month of Ramadan and break their fast only at dusk.


Eid-ul-Fitr commemorates the month of Ramadan, marking the end of the month-long fast. Fitr means to break symbolizing the break of the fasting period and of all evil habits thereafter.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a joyous festival with significant religious significance. Happiness surrounds the ambience with attainment of the spiritual blessings after a month of fasting. Muslims dress in holiday attire and attend a special congregational prayer in the morning. After the service, worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace, love and brotherhood and visit friends and relatives.
For Muslims, Eid ul Fitr is a joyful celebration of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory and peace, of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity.
Eid ul-Adha


It occurs on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja. It is one of two Eid festivals that Muslims celebrate. Eid ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son(Ishmael) for (Allah) God. Others celebrate Eid-ul Adha as it marks the end of the Pilgrimage or Hajj for the millions of Muslims who make the trip to Mecca each year.

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