Public Holidays in Eritrea
Eritrea bases its national holidays on the Roman calendar.
Orthodox events however, are based on the Julian calendar which puts these
events approximately one week later than those celebrated under the Roman calendar.
Muslim holidays follow a lunar calendar. Therefore the exact dates of each
Muslim festivals will change every year.
The national celebrations are planned and managed
by the National Holidays Coordinating Committee. Regional festivals and fairs
are held throughout the country, organized by municipalities, Zoba
administrations, and the Eritrean Tewahedo Church.
*) Official holidays recognized by the Eritrean Government.
Every effort has been made to present an accurate list of the main
events in Eritrea. We cannot accept any
responsibility for any error or omission in the data shown above. Dates may
vary, due to leap years and unforeseen circumstances. For up-to-date
information, please contact the Tourism Service Center in
Independence Day Celebrations - May
24 2006 - Asmara Stadium.
May 24 Independence Day is the most
significant National Holiday in Eritrea. On May 24 1991 EPLF forces entered
Asmara, re-claiming independence, after a bitter 30 years war against Ethiopian
All but one African nation were
being handed their freedom on a golden platter in the mid 1950's and early
1960's. Eritrea and its people were not experiencing that luck at the time. Due
to the strategic importance of Eritrea, and United States involvement, the
country and its people were handed over to Ethiopia in 1952. Independence was
won in a thirty year struggle at an unfathomable price. The word 'independence'
therefore has a very special meaning when used in the Eritrean context.
Independence Day is celebrated nationwide in
Eritrea, but the most spectacular place to be is in Asmara, where the 1991
victory is celebrated with one week of cultural shows in Cinema Odeon and
Bahti Meskerem, carnival on the main streets of Asmara, community feasts, live
music on Harnet Avenue, and a colorful celebration at the Asmara Stadium on May
20 2009 - Asmara Eritrea.
On June 20 Eritreans residing in the country and
in the Diaspora are commemorating their martyrs. The brothers and sisters, sons
and daughters, and comrades who paid the ultimate price, their lives, for
Eritrean independence (1961-1991) and the recent war, preserving it (1998-2000). On this day the Eritreans will light candle's for, and visit the graves of
100.000 fighters that did not survive the 30 years armed struggle
against Ethiopian occupation, and the recent
conflict with Ethiopia.
On September 1 Eritrea celebrates the start of
the armed struggle in 1961. A group of eleven Eritreans under the leadership of
Hamid Idris Awate attacked police posts in Western Eritrea. Hamid fired the first
shot against Ethiopian government forces on 1 September 1961 at Mount Adal.
Eritrea - August 03
2006 - Expo grounds Asmara Eritrea.
The annual Festival Eritrea usually starts on the last Friday of July,
with a cultural show that is staged at Cinema Odeon. The official opening ceremony takes place at the Expo grounds on Saturday.
The Festival Eritrea in Asmara is the cultural event of the year. The festival features cultural
performances of Eritrea's nine nationalities, exhibitions of art and handicrafts,
models of traditional homes, traditional food and refreshments, rites and
ceremonies, and scale models of Eritrean industry and ecosystems. Camels,
ponies and antique railway equipment give a tour ride around the Expo grounds. The
one week Festival Eritrea is the ideal event for visitors, to have fun and learn about
Eritrea, its culture, and the customs of its people.
Eid Al-Adha - November 27 2009
- Bahti Meskerem Asmara Eritrea.
Mawlid al-Nabi celebrates the birthday of
Muhammad. Mawlid means birthday and al-Nabi means prophet. The day is commemorated with recollections of Muhammad's life and significance.
Ramadan, the month of fasting, ends with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. Literally the "Festival of Breaking the Fast,"
People dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family.
A sense of generosity and gratitude colors these festivities. Muslims are obligated to share their blessings
with orphans, martyr's families and charity.
Eid al-Adha: The celebration concluding the Hajj.
Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates the prophet Abraham's willingness to obey Allah by sacrificing his
only son. Just before Abraham sacrificed his son, Allah replaced Ishmael with a ram, thus sparing his life.
27 2005 - Bahti Meskerem Asmara Eritrea.
Meskel is an annual religious holiday of the Eritrean Orthodox
Church commemorating the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Eleni (Saint Helena) in the fourth century. Meskel occurs on
27 September. "Meskel", is Ge'ez for "cross". The
priests, wearing colorful robes and umbrellas, perform dances and songs.
The Meskel celebration includes the burning of a large bonfire, or
Damera, based on the belief that Queen Eleni had a revelation in a dream. She was told that
she should make a bonfire, and that the smoke would show her where the true cross was buried.
A procession takes place from the Nda Mariam Church to the Bahti Meskeren Square
in the morning. When the Damera has collapsed and the fire is extinguished, charcoal from the remains of the fire is collected and used by the faithful to mark their foreheads with the shape of a cross.
It is said that direction of the collapse of the Damera indicates the course of future events.
Leddet is the Ge'ez name for Christmas which is marked by special ceremonies. It is celebrated on
January 7 preceded by a fast of 40 days.
Timket is the Orthodox Church festival of Epiphany, celebrated on
January 19. Timket celebrates the Baptism of Jesus. in the Jordan River. The ceremony includes a colorful procession
Tensae, the Orthodox Easter, is celebrated in spring. It is a movable feast with
no fixed data. The celebration of Tensea varies between 4 April and 8 May.
Festival of Mariam Dearit
29 2009 - Keren Eritrea.
Yearly, many people flock in places like Debre
Dearit, and others to pilgrimage. These festivals are attended by people from many areas. These
festivals are celebrated at a national level. There are many of these traditional festivals in Eritrea.
Nigdet St. Michael Orthodox Church
22 2007 - Asmara Eritrea.
The many Orthodox churches and monasteries have
their annual ‘Nigdet’ or Saints' feast. There are many of these festivals in
Eritrea. These festivals are attended by the residents of a place and its
surroundings. Families visit families, with gifts as a gesture of goodwill and love.