ETHIOPIAN FESTIVALS AND HOLIDAYS
FEAST OF SAINT MARY “MARYAM TSION”
Falls on November 30th, the festival, that 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”
As 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 Saint Mary. "Hidar Mariam 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.
FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL “KULUBI GABRIEL”
Saint Gabriel is the Patron Saint who guards over homes and churches. There is a huge pilgrimage at every December 28th to Saint Gabriel's Church on Kulubi hill, which is on the route from Addis Ababa eastwards, about 70 kilometers before Dire Dawa. Many pilgrims carry heavy burdens as penance, children are brought to be baptized, and offerings are made to be distributed to the poor.
ETHIOPIAN CHRISTMAS: "GENNA”
Ethiopian Christmas falls on 7th of January, the faithful attend all night church services, often moving from one church to another. The traditional game of Genna (a kind of hockey) and some times “gugs” (a kind of polo) are played along with horseracing. Priests don their regalia; Lalibela is considered the best place for Christmas.