End-of-Year Celebrations from Across Africa

Happy holidays!

This time of year is synonymous with celebration – as it should be! A time to reflect on all we’ve accomplished and to set forth new intentions for the year to come.

In the Toghal spirit of honouring traditional mediums of communication (of which textiles are a part), as well as contemporary creative expression, we wanted to share some old and new end-of-year celebrations, from across the continent.

Amazigh Food Bazeen

Amazigh New Year (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia)

The Berbers (or Amazighs) are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. Imazighen (the plural of Amazigh) mans “free men” and the New Year festivities are a way for Berbers to honour their history and affirm their identity.

Taking place around January 13, eating is a big part of the celebration, with different foods holding different symbolisms.

Find out more here and here.

Fanal Parade

The Fanal parade (Senegal and Gambia)

The Fanal parade is also known as the Lantern Festival of Senegambia. Fanals are elaborate boats made of bamboo covered in white paper, lit from inside with candles or electric lights. They are either set on wheels or carried through the streets by revellers, accompanied by music. These parades are usually held at Christmas time but, also during other significant holidays.

The parade has roots in the 1600s and the relations between Portuguese navigators and the local inhabitants. Find out more here.

mwaka-kogwa-makunduchi-zanzibar Tanzania

Mwaka Kogwa (Tanzania)

Mwaka Kogwa – “show of the year” is a series of celebrations that take place in Makunduchi, a town at the tip of Zanzibar, to celebrate the Persian New Year (which happens to be in July/August!). A ritual battle is fought and subsequently, a hut is burned. The direction that the smoke follows informs predictions made for the new year. The day concludes in a huge potluck feast, before revellers head to a nearby beach to sing and dance.

Find out more here.

Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Ouidah Voodoo Festival (Benin)

The Voodoo religion is a part of everyday life for millions of Beninese and the Voodoo Festival in Ouidah is the country’s most vibrant and colourful event.

First, the supreme voodoo priest slaughters a goat to honour the spirits and then singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and drinking of gin ensue. The beach is also turned into a racehorse track.

Find out more here.

Timket Festival Ethiopia

Timket (Ethiopia)

Timket, or the Feast of the Epiphany, is a 3-day event, celebrated each January, commemorating the baptism of Christ. It is one of the most colourful of Ethiopian festivals. The night before, priests take the Tabot from each church to a tent at a pool or stream. Crowds follow, ringing bells, burning incense and carrying oil lamps. At dawn, a ceremonial cross is used to extinguish a candle burning on a pole in the nearby water and often, members of the crowd then jump in! The Tabots are then returned to the churches and the festivities continue.

Find out more here.

How will you be bringing in the new year?

Image credits: AmazighFanal; Mwaka Kogwa; Ouidah Voodoo Festival; Timket

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