Festivals in Ethiopia

Ashenda  and  Shadey

Ashenda or Shadey (Amharic: አሸንድዮ, Tigrinya: ኣሸንዳ, Agaw language: ሻደይ) is a festival celebrated in August (G.C.) in the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, and in neighbouring Eritrea. Ashenda marks the end of a two-week-long fast known as Filseta (Ge’ez: ጾመ-ፍልሰታ) when adherents of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church/Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church gather to honour the Virgin Mary. The word “Ashenda” is currently used both in Amharic and Tigrigna languages to denote a vertical sewerage channel that passes water down to the ground from the top of a roof. In the Khimra sect of Agew, Ashenda means the “tall green grass”, estimated at around 80–90 cm minimum height that girls wear around their waists during the holiday. In the tradition of this religious festival, blades of grass are strewn on the floors of homes and shops as a kind of welcome mat. The festivity of Ashenda has no common name throughout the country. For instance,

  • In Raya, Enderta, and Tembien Regions historically it is known as Ashenda (Tigrinya: ኣሸንዳ), and is colorfully celebrated typically from August 16 to September 11 (according to Ethiopian Calendar).
  • In Wag Hemra zone it is called Shaday (ሻደይ), and in Raya Kobo it’s known as Solel (ሶለል). It is celebrated on August 16
  • In Adigrat town it is called Mariya (ማርያ). It is celebrated August 15–17
  • In Aksum town it is called Ayniwari (ዓይኒዋሪ). It is celebrated August 23–25This cultural festivity was originated from two historical legends that occurred in different periods. These were; During the ancient times of Ethiopia it was said that there was a girl who always walked around praying that her father would come back safe from war. when he did, she welcomed him with singing and beating drums. she was 17 years old. So every year it because a tradition of all the young girls together around singing and beating drums, while the young boys keep on eye on them from a distance,to make sure they were safe from any wild animals. This took place in the Tembien region.
    Meskel in Ethiopia The Finding of the True cross.
  • Meskel (Ge’ez: መስቀል) is an annual religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox , which commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by the Roman Empress Helena (Saint Helena) in the fourth century. Meskel occurs on the 17 Meskerem in the Ethiopian calendar (September 27, Gregorian calendar, or on 28 September in leap years). “Meskel” (or “Meskal” or “Mesqel”, there are various ways to transliterate from Ge’ez to Latin script) is Ge’ez for “cross”.The festival is known as Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in other Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant churches. The churches that follow the Gregorian calendar celebrate the feast yearly on September 14.
    Ethiopian timket epiphany

Timkat (Amharic: ጥምቀት which means “baptism”) (also spelled Timket, or Timqat) is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January 19 (or 20 on Leap Year), corresponding to the 10th day of Terr following the Ethiopian calendar. Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism (similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan). Orthodox priests at a Timkat ceremony in Jan Meda.

During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, which is present on every Ethiopian altar (somewhat like the Western altar stone), is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and borne in procession on the head of the priest.[1] The Tabot, which is otherwise rarely seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated near a stream or pool early in the morning (around 2 a.m.). Then the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows.


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