Home Culture Id Yennayer, How Imazighen Celebrate the Amazigh New Year

Id Yennayer, How Imazighen Celebrate the Amazigh New Year

Amazigh New Year

Taliouine – Today, January 12, 2018, the Amazigh people all over the world, particularly, in the north African countries, are celebrating the Amazigh New Year, 2968, known as “Yennayer”.

Yennayer is the first day of the agrarian calendar year used since ancient times by Berbers throughout North Africa.

Even though the Amazigh language is an official language in Morocco, the Amazigh new year has not yet been recognized officially in Morocco as a national holiday. However, most Moroccans never miss this occasion to celebrate and exchange wishes and prayers during this day.

Although Amazigh New Year Event is celebrated by many Moroccans, every January 12, long time ago, only few people do realize the symbolic and historical implications of this event.

Under different names, Yennayer is celebrated by both Arabic and Berber speaking communities. The Arabic 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.

Like many people in the cities and villages of Morocco, inhabitants of Taliouine, a mountainous town in the region of Agadir, held collective dinners, parties and lectures to celebrate the event.

The association of culture and sport in the small village of Ighri, a few kilometers from Taliouine, hosted the Amazigh activist Ibrahim El Hiyani to speak about the history and cultural symbolization of the Amazigh New Year.

Elhiyani told Morocco World News that the Amazigh New Year, locally called “Id Yennayer is associated with the god of fertility and agriculture.”

In his lecture, the activist said that the history of thi 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 Amazigh people were able to establish a new monarchy that ruled from Libya to Egypt. This glorious victory marked the beginning of the Amazigh date,” El Hiyanni added.

To celebrate this big event, people all over Morocco prepare various succulent dishes. In Souss region, people prepare “Irkmen”, wheat with dry fava beans simmered in the form of thick soup. Others serve “Tagola”, a meal based on corn kernels cooked, and mixed with butter and accompanied with ghee, argan oil and honey.

Yennayer

For the people in the south east, couscous with seven vegetables remains the luxurious dish to be served on that special night.

“This Amazigh New year coincides with the flowering of almond trees, which makes it a good starting point for men and women alike to begin their agricultural activities,” Abdelmajid Nidouisaadan, a high school teacher and a community activist told MWN.

Nidouisaadan wishes the Amazigh New Year was a paid holiday in Morocco.

“Since the Hijri and the Gregorian new years are official holidays in Morocco, why not the Amzigh New Year?” he wondered.

There are also many amazing traditions and practices that accompany the food that the Amazigh prepare for this night of festivity. Besides 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 it very 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 January 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 ighudan, s Tudert Nek A winu!

 

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