Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara region, is well known to be the home of an outstanding religious tradition. The presence of different monasteries and churches on the islands of Lake Tana offer a different and interesting scenario to the choreographies of the celebrations.
The Meskel celebration has been declared an intangible heritage by Unesco, and is widely celebrated all across Ethiopia. There are several interesting characteristics in this colourful celebration that is both linked to the Orthodox church and to the end of the rainy season. A big bonfire is the central moment of the feast, and in Bahr Dar is celebrated in the afternoon of the Eve, among joyful dances and songs, with very few tourists attending it. .
Kidane Mihret (ኪዳነ ምሕረት) is a Ge’ez phrase which literally means ‘covenant of mercy’. The phrase is used to refer to God’s promise to St. Mary that he would forgive the sins of those who seek her intercession. The annual celebration of Kidane Mehret in late February is especially colourful in the homonym church hidden on the peninsula of Zeghie nearby Bahr dar, with chants and dancing in this charming and remote place surrounded by vegetation.
After the first introduction of the Syrian inspired monasticism by the nine saints in the 5th century, monasteries followed being present starting in the 13th century, within the general revival of the Ethiopian Church, a new wave of monasteries blossomed, among them Daga Estifanos on Lake Tana, and monk, Fre Seyon, starring of a great artistic renaissance that took place on the 14th century, giving birth to the so-called Gondarine painting style, a unique blend of local tradition and external influences coming both from Europe and Asia.