Other Christian celebrations
There are many other Christian celebrations in Ethiopia. Every day of the month is dedicated to a Saint and once a year there is the annual celebration on that day. Some Saints have even more than one annual celebration. Saint Maryam (Mary) has 5 days of the month dedicated to her. These days are celebrated, both monthly and annually, in the churches dedicated to that Saint. Obviously, the annual celebration is the more colorful one and the Tabot (replica of the Ark of the Covenant, consecrated in the name of the Saint) is most of the time taken out of the Makdas (holy of holiest) on that day.
It is very important to travel with a (local) guide when visiting celebrations. They give you valuable background information and inform you where to go and what to do. Meanwhile avoiding offending acts you might not be aware of.
The bigger annual Christian celebrations are mentioned below, the list is not complete. The list follows the Gregorian calendar, starting in January. Note that in a leap year in the Ethiopian calendar, the extra day is added at the end of the year, which means September 11th Gregorian calendar. Due to this, the days of the Ethiopian calendar between September 11th and February 29th in a leap year will differ one day from the Gregorian calendar.
The commemoration of Maryam’s death is every 21st day of the month Ethiopian calendar. On Ter 21 is the annual celebration. This is January 29th (30th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar.
Kidane Mehret or The Covenant of Mercy commemorates the promise by God to Maryam to bless those who believe in her intercession and save their souls in heaven. The celebration is on every 16th day of the month Ethiopian calendar with the annual celebration on Yekatit 16. This is February 23rd (24th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar.
The commemoration of the birth of Maryam is on every first day of the month Ethiopian calendar. On Ginbot 1 is the annual celebration. This is May 9th Gregorian calendar. This is certainly a special one among the smaller Christian celebrations and is very important in Axum.
Kristos Semera was a nun who prayed for 24 years in a church on Tana Kirkos island in Lake Tana and a church founded by her nearby at the shore. Therefore the Kristos Semera church has 2 annual celebrations in her name. On Ginbot 12 (May 20th Gregorian calendar) the covenant between Kristos Semera and God is commemorated. Also, the dead of Kristos Semera is commemorated, on Nehase 24. This is August 30th Gregorian calendar.
Sene and Hidar Michael
On the day after Timket, there is a colorful celebration to commemorate Archangel Mikael (Mikael) but actually, this is a ‘normal’ monthly day. Every 12th day of the Ethiopian Calendar is dedicated to Archangel Mikael and there are two annual days dedicated to him, Sene 12 and Hidar 12. This is June 19th and November 21 (22nd in a leap year) Gregorian calendar.
Like Mikael there are also two annual days dedicated to archangel Gabriel. The monthly day is on every 19th day of the month Ethiopian calendar and Hamle 19 and Tahisas 19 are the annual celebrations. This is July 26th and December 28th (29th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar.
The celebration on both days is particularly colorful in Kulibi Gabriel, Hamle 19 is a bit smaller because of the rainy season. Kulibi is found 465 km east of Addis Ababa, 60 km before Harar. Many thousands of pilgrims will participate here.
The ascension of Saint Mary is commemorated on Nehase 16. This is August 22nd Gregorian calendar. Meanwhile, it coincides with the monthly celebration of Kidane Mehret and is most colorful celebrated in those churches.
Gishen Maryam is a remote monastery with four churches 490 km from Addis Ababa, in the mountains between Dessie and Woldya. The last part of the journey takes about half an hour on foot. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the country with a rich history. It is believed a piece (the right arm) of the True Cross obtained by Emperor Dawit in the 15th century, is deposited in the monastery.
The whole country celebrates Meskel, the finding of the True Cross at the end of September. Thereafter, at Gishen Maryam the deposition of the True Cross is celebrated very colorfully on October 1st (2nd in a leap year), Gregorian calendar. Many thousands of pilgrims attend this festival.
Abuna Gebre Menfes Kidus
Abuna Gebre Menfes Kidus or Abo was a monk who lived during the time of King Lalibela. It is said he praised God at an age of only 3 days old. At the same age, he was refusing to drink milk on Wednesdays, being one of the fasting days in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Also, his body is believed to be covered in fur and he was accompanied by lions and leopards. He founded the Abo Monastery at the top of Mount Zequala, 50 km south of Addis Abeba.
Every fifth day of the Ethiopian calendar is dedicated to Abo and the annual celebration is on Tikimt 5. This is October 15th (16th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar. It is extremely colorful celebrated at Mount Zequala. This festival coincides with the closing ceremony of Erecha, a ceremony held by the Oromo people at Mount Zequala
Abuna Aregawi is one of the Nine Saints and the founder of the Debre Damo Monastery in Tigray. Every 14th day of the month Ethiopian calendar is dedicated to him. Tikimt 14 is the annual celebration. This is October 24th (25th in a leap year). Obviously, the Debre Damo Monastery is the best place to witness this.
The apparition of Mary at Mount Mitmak during her flight to Egypt is commemorated on the sixth day of the month Ethiopian calendar under the name of Kuskuam. The annual celebration is on Hidar 6. This is November 15th (16th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar. One of the places where it is celebrated colorfully is at Kuskuam Maryam in Gondar
Every third day of the month of the Ethiopian calendar, Ba’ata is commemorated and in this listing the last Christian celebration to mention. This is to remember that Saint Mary was presented to a temple when she was 3 years old. Her parents had vowed to do so after many years of infertility. The annual celebration is on Tahisas 3. This is December 12th (13th in a leap year) Gregorian calendar.