With Ethiopia’s combination of deep faith, religion, holy sites, and traditional culture, there are many large pilgrimages in the country, both for Christians and Muslims. The famous historical sites of Axum, Lalibela, and Gondar all have major pilgrimages on the various major Christian holidays.
As the most important church in Ethiopia, Axum’s Kidist Mariam Tsion Church hosts a pilgrimage during the Festival of Kidist Mariam, which is November 30th (December 1st, depending upon leap year). Besides this, Mesqel (September 27th or 28th) and Timqet (January 19th or 20th) include some of the best pilgrimages of the major holidays here.
Lalibela has large pilgrimages for every major holiday, including Lidet (January 7th or 8th), Timqet, Fasika (April 12 in 2015), Qidus Yohannes (September 11th or 12th), and Mesqel. The Festival of Kidus Giorgis is also big here, due to the city’s most important church being dedicated to the saint.
Kulubi Gabriel is a huge semiannual pilgrimage in eastern Ethiopia venerating the archangel. The bigger of the two occurs on December 28th or 29th and the smaller, though still very impressive, on July 26th.Other pilgrimages to look into are those of Debre Libanos Tekle Haimanot on the road to Bahir Dar, Kuk Yelesh Mariam just north of Debre Berhan, and Gishen Mariam a ways to the west of Wichale between Dessie and Weldiya.
The best Muslim pilgrimage is that of Sheikh Hussein, north of the Sof Omar Caves. It centers on a mosque, tombs, and caves. Most of the inhabitants of the Bale and Arsi zones came to Islam as a direct result of the actions of this man from the 1200s.
Ethiopia is unique with its Julian-based calendar differing in dates of Christian holidays from the Gregorian calendar (Christmas, Easter, and Epiphany are the major ones). Therefore, in Ethiopia, some holidays can be celebrated twice, including New Year’s Day. The Finding of the True Cross (Mesqel) is uniquely celebrated in the nation. The Ethiopian Millennium was a big recap for most foreigners who may have missed their own millennial celebration, whether or not they were worried about the world ending
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