Rabat – Today, January 12, North African countries, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and parts of Egypt, are celebrating Yennayer, the Amazigh (Berber) New Year 2,969.
Joyous Amazigh festivities have begun in Algeria. People have taken to the street to dance, serve traditional food, play traditional music, and share happy moments.
Videos and pictures of raised Amazigh flags and people in colorful traditional outfits amid festive celebrations are circulating on social media.
The Yennayer celebrations are especially resonant in Algeria because the country officially recognizes it as a national holiday.
On December 27, 2017, Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika recognized the Amazigh New Year as an official public holiday in a decree.
Despite the recent fatwa by Algerian Islamic scholars deeming Yennayer celebrations as “haram” (forbidden in Islam), celebrations are booming in the country.
In, Morocco, people are holding parties and, as every year, Amazigh families in several regions of the country prepare special dishes including couscous and tagola, the famous Amazigh dish served on Yennayer.
Amazigh dish, Tagola
Tagola is a delightful dish made of corn kernels, argan oil, ghee, and honey cooked and mixed with butter.
Another dish named orikmen is also exclusively eaten on the first day of the Amazigh New Year. It is a thick soup made of wheat and dry fava beans.
The history of Yennayer goes back to 950 BC, when the Amazigh army lead by the Berber king “Sheshonq,” also spelled “Chichnaq,” defeated the pharaoh’s army and conquered Egypt.
The Amazigh nation established a new monarchy that ruled from Libya to Egypt, which marked the beginning of the Amazigh calendar.
Moroccans are still hoping and calling for the government to make Yennayer a national and public holiday.