Religious Holidays

Feel the heartbeat of the people

Include a religious festival in your itinerary and make this fascinating country truly come alive. Learn about ancient doctrine and traditions, follow a holy procession through town, and watch the faithful sing and pray all night long under a blanket of stars. You
will see why these holy days are the heartbeat of the Ethiopian people. Far and wide, Ethiopia is rife with shrines and holy places
allowing you to see how the devoted and pious clergymen across the country have safeguarded their traditions from modernity.
People still arrive on foot, music is still heard through a drum, meat is still cooked over an open fire. It is an orquestra of love and
patience. With a bit of planning around the religious calendar and with our expertise, we can help choose the right festival for
every traveler and find a way for you to get lost in these wildly popular celebrations.

Ethiopian Holidays

Witness the patience and elation of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians as they
break fast at midnight and celebrate with a spectacular mass of song and
joyful church music. The holiday evokes pure bliss with feasting and drinking.
Lalibela is a special place for Christmas.

Follow a the holy procession of priests, deacons, and Christians through the streets one day and wake early the next to splash in the holy waters, when believers commemorate Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. For Timket, Gondar is the most famous, and Axum and Lalibela are good options.

Try some of Ethiopia’s finest vegetarian cuisine, such as lentils, split peas,
garbanzos, fruit, and a variety of vegetable stews accompanied by injera
(flatbread made from teff) during the Easter fast. On the eve of Easter, go to mass and light candles for loved ones. The next day, families give gifts.
Easter is especially colorful in the holy cities of Axum and Lalibela.

New Year’s day is not exactly religious. The day marks the end of the
13-month calendar and coincides with the start of springtime in the
highlands. Many families decorate their homes with the yellow Meskel flower while the youth sing, dance, and exchange greetings. The Tigray churches of Gheralta can be fun for this holiday, where you can spend time with priests on their day off.

Meskel is a festival of fire and smoke that celebrates the finding of the True Cross of Christ. According to legend, the smoke of a fire led to the discovery of the cross in the 4th century. The country’s largest celebration takes place on Meskel Square in the capital Addis Ababa, where after a mid-day mass, thousands of candles welcome an enormous bonfire. The Gurage and Dorze tribes in the south are known for their passionate Meskel celebrations. 

Walk with pilgrims to Kulubi, located near the city of Dire Dawa, following the processions and ceremonies of devotion and witnessing how pilgrims take on arduous tasks to fulfill their vows and provide gifts to the church.

Go East to Ethiopia’s cultural center of Islam, to witness how the religion’s
most important holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, is celebrated with the sacrifice of thousands of animals to provide feast for every neighbor in town. Share the celebration and see this holiday on full display in Harar.