Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country located in the Horn of Africa. It celebrates several festivals throughout the year that reflect its diverse cultural heritage. In this paper, we will discuss some of the major festivals of Eritrea, their history, and significance.
Independence Day (May 24)
Independence Day is the most important festival of Eritrea, celebrated on May 24 every year. On this day, Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991, following a 30-year-long war. The festival is marked by military parades, cultural shows, and speeches by government officials. It is a time to celebrate Eritrea’s hard-won freedom and honor the sacrifices made by the people who fought for it.
Meskel (September 27)
Meskel is a religious festival celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church. It commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, in the 4th century. The festival is marked by the lighting of a huge bonfire in the evening, around which people dance and sing. The next day, a procession is held, and the clergy bless the faithful.
Independence Torch (May 24-25)
The Independence Torch festival is a two-day event that starts on May 24, the day of Independence Day. A torch is lit in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and is carried by runners across the country. The torch symbolizes the flame of independence and the endurance of the Eritrean people. The festival is marked by parades, cultural shows, and speeches by government officials.
Festival Eritrea (August)
Festival Eritrea is a week-long cultural festival held in Asmara in August. The festival showcases Eritrea’s diverse cultures and traditions through music, dance, food, and fashion. It is an opportunity for Eritreans from different regions to come together and celebrate their shared identity.
Kulubi (December 28)
Kulubi is a religious festival celebrated by the Eritrean Orthodox Church. It commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. The festival is marked by a procession, during which the clergy carry crosses and banners, and the faithful sing hymns. It is also a time for family gatherings and feasting.
In conclusion, Eritrea has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and its festivals reflect this diversity. From Independence Day to Meskel, these festivals are a way for the Eritrean people to celebrate their history, culture, and traditions.