Asugas Amaynu: Happy Amazigh New Year 2963
by larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant- Jan 11, 2013
Tomorrow, January 12, coincides with the Amazigh New Year, 2963, known as “Yennayer”. Yennayer is the first day of the agrarian calendar year used since ancient times by Berbers throughout North Africa. Even though this day has not yet been recognized officially in Morocco as a national holiday, most of Moroccans never miss this occasion to celebrate and exchange wishes and prayers during this day, which marks the beginning of a new Amazigh year.
Although Amazigh New Year Event is celebrated by many Moroccans, every January 12, only few people do realize the symbolic and historical implications of this event. Under different names, Yennayer is celebrated by both Arab and Berber speaking communities. The Arab speaking community in old cities referred to this traditional event as “Haguza” or “Am Alfilahi” (the Agrarian year). However, The Amazigh people, more precisely those dwelling in the south east of Morocco, call it “Id Suggas” (the night of the year). “Id Suggas” is a very traditional festivity on the Eve of the Amazigh New Year.
The history of this great event traces back to 950 BC, when the Amazigh nation defeated the pharaoh army and managed to enter Egypt, during the reign of Pharaohs. Under the leadership of “Chachanq” known also as “Cheshung”, the Amazighs were able to establish a new monarchy that ruled from Libya to Egypt. This glorious victory marked the beginning of the Amazigh date.
To celebrate this big event, people all over Morocco prepare various succulent dishes. Some prepare “Irkmen”, wheat with dry fava beans simmered in the form of soup. Others serve “Tagola”, a meal based on corn kernels cooked, and mixed with butter and accompanied with ghee. However, Couscous with seven vegetables remains the luxurious dish to be served on that special night.
There are also many amazing traditions and practices that accompany the food that the Amazigh prepare for this night of festivity. Apart from dancing and singing special songs of love, fertility and prosperity, welcoming a new agrarian year, the Amazigh people, in particular those in the country side, find in this occasion a better chance to socialize, exchange food and seek reconciliation with those with whom they had some misunderstandings.
In different parts of the south-east, people prepare a special dish for the occasion, usually, couscous with many vegetables and pulses. Back to the years of my childhood, I recall how my mother never missed this event. Having no Amazigh calendar at home, I appreciated too much, and wondered how my parents and other neighborhoods got to know the exact time of the Berber New Year.
One of the most symbolic and amazing practice in the south east, I still reminisce with joy and regret for their being less practiced, is explained by Mr. Lahcen Amokrane, an Amazigh activist and blogger, whom MWN interviewed on the occasion of the Amazigh New Year. “The Amazigh people of the south east prepare couscous for the night of Jan 12, every year, as a cultural ritual celebrating “Id Suggas”. Traditionally, they put “Ighs” a seed of dates or “alluz” a piece of almond, as some prefer to do recently, in couscous. The person who finds this seed of dates or piece of almonds is to be entrusted with the keys of “Lakhzin”, a room reserved for storing the family’s food, and that person is believed to be “blessed” throughout the whole year”, he told Morocco World News.
For these happy moments, I, as well as MWN, wish our dear readers a happy new year full of joy and prosperity. In the Amazigh language, I tell you, Assuggas Amaynu d Ameggaz, s Tudert Nek A winu!
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