The month of September holds special significance in Ethiopia as it is a time when a variety of religious and cultural celebrations take place, making it a true gift from the Ethiopian people. Ethiopia, with its rich history and diverse population, is known for its vibrant traditions and festivities, and September is a month that truly showcases the country’s cultural and religious heritage.
One of the most prominent celebrations in September is the Ethiopian New Year, known as Enkutatash. Falling on September 1st, Enkutatash is a joyous occasion marking the end of the rainy season and the beginning of spring. It holds great cultural importance and is celebrated with music, dancing, traditonal foods, and the exchange of gifts and good wishes. The streets come alive with colorful processions, and people dress in traditional attire, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Another significant religious celebration in September is Meskel, which commemorates the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena in the 4th century. Meskel celebration is a festival that resonates with happiness and spiritual significance and is a crucial component of Ethiopian Christianity. The ceremony, which is observed on September 16 and 17 according to the Ethiopian calendar, is highlighted by the lighting of a huge bonfire known as the Demera, which represents the directive given by Empress Helena to light torches in order to reveal the location of the True Cross.
The largest festival in Ethiopia, Meskel, features a well-planned event that takes place in Meskel Square in Addis Abeba, Gondar, Guraghe,Wolayta Gifata, hadia yahode Meskela, Gamo gofa YoYo meskela, as well as various locations throughout the regional town, including individual homes. A symbol of hope and renewal, this bright celebration also represents the victory of light over darkness and acts as a lighthouse of hope and rejuvenation. There is a sense of fervor and dedication as thousands of people congregate around the Demera, singing hymns, religious anthems, and saying prayers. Meskel exemplifies the enduring faith and cultural heritage that is interwoven into the fabric of Ethiopian society.
Additionally, this religious event, also associated with the discovery of the True Cross, is celebrated with religious processions, prayers, and fasting. It is a time for devout Christians to reflect on the significance of the Cross in their faith and seek spiritual renewal.
Furthermore, in the September month the other religion festival to celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday Held on September 16th Ethiopian calendar, observed by the Ethiopian Muslim community, is a momentous occasion that brings together individuals from all walks of life. This auspicious event, marked by prayer, recitation of the Holy Quran, and acts of charity, serves as a time for spiritual reflection and unity. Through common values of empathy, understanding, and generosity, it gives Ethiopians an opportunity to establish ties within their communities and promotes interfaith harmony. Ethiopia’s dedication to religious tolerance and peace is demonstrated through the commemoration of the Prophet’s Birthday and other religious celebration like Meskel.
Beyond religious celebrations, September is a month that also highlights Ethiopia’s cultural diversity. The country is home to numerous ethnic groups, each with its own distinct traditions and customs. After one week to the celebration of Meskel Demera ceremony, Irrecha, predominantly celebrated by the Oromo people, is a festival steeped in gratitude and unity.
Communities come together during this celebration, which takes place in the final week of September, in revered locations like Hora Harsadii in Bishoftu. With vibrant ceremonies, ethnic dances, and the sharing of food, the Oromo people show respect for their ancestral lands and the bountiful harvest. Irrecha promotes a feeling of sustainability and care by serving as a reminder of the interconnected relationship between culture, spirituality, and the environment.
In Ethiopia’s cultural and religious celebrations serve as vibrant platforms for embracing the country’s diverse heritage. These festivals bring together people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, fostering unity and intercultural exchange. The Prophet’s Birthday, Meskel, and Irrecha festivities highlight Ethiopians’ extraordinary capacity for peaceful coexistence that transcends differences and fosters respect for one another. By commemorating these events, we can strengthen social ties between families, neighborhoods, and faith-related groups and foster a sense of belonging.
They provide opportunities for Ethiopians to come together, share meals, exchange gifts, and engage in communal activities. These collective experiences foster a sense of unity and solidarity among participants and other visitors. Moreover it provide a space for cultural expression, preserving and transmitting traditions from one generation to the next.
Furthermore, the festivals have a positive impact on local economies. Increased tourism during these celebrations generates revenue through accommodation, transportation, food, and handicraft sales. This influx of visitors’ benefits local communities, stimulates small businesses, and contributes to economic growth.
Thousands of foreigners worldwide put a lot of effort into traveling and attending this colorful and beautiful event. Watching diversity with the same traditional values is very attractive and heartwarming to be part of this culture.
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald
BY FIKADU BELAY
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD FRIDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2023