Id Yennayer is the Berber Amazigh New Year celebration, the first day of the Amazigh (Berber) agricultural calendar, which falls on January 12th in Morocco.
The Imazighen Berber New Year festivities will take place on Tuesday this year. Id Yennayer is observed in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Western Egypt, and this year marks the 2971st Yennayer, or “Berber Amazigh New Year.”
Yennayer is celebrated by the Amazigh Moroccan people with traditional cuisine, music, and dancing. According to Amazigh activist Ibrahim El Hiyani, Yennayer “is linked with the deity of fertility and agriculture.”
Couscous, like other Moroccan festivals, is important to Yennayer festivities. While holiday feasts are generally the same from town to town or village to town or village, Amazigh activist Lahcen Amokrane claims there are some slight deviations. According to him, one such (significant) distinction is that the Amazigh people of southeast Morocco usually bury a date stone or an almond in the dish couscous.
“Every year on January 12th, the Amazigh people in the southeast cook couscous as a traditional ceremony celebrating ‘Id Suggas.’ “Traditionally, they add ‘ighs,’ a date seed, or ‘alluz,’ a sliver of almond, as some choose to do nowadays, in couscous,” Amokrane said.
It’s up to the person who finds a seed of dates or a piece of almonds to be given the keys to the “lakhzin,” a room where the family keeps their food, and that person is supposed to be “blessed” for the whole year.
Other typical meals include “tagola,” a maize kernel, butter, ghee, Argan oil, and honey mixture, and “irkmen,” a thick soup of boiled fava beans and wheat.
Id Yennayer: How Imazighen Celebrate the Amazigh Berber New Year
Parades in Amazigh villages are also common, accompanied by traditional music and costumes, as well as the Amazigh flag’s colors of green, yellow, and blue. While each group has its own Yennayer customs and ceremonies, the Amazigh people of North Africa have a shared past.
“This Berber Amazigh New Year coincides with the blossoming of almond trees, making it an ideal beginning point for men and women alike to begin their agricultural operations,” community organizer Abdelmajid Nidouisaadan told Morocco World News recently.
Dancing and singing are two traditions associated with the Berber Amazigh New Year. Amazigh people traditionally celebrate the new agricultural year with songs of love, fertility, and wealth. They place a specific focus in rural regions on mingling, sharing meals, and resolving unresolved misunderstandings and problems.
Because Yennayer celebrates fertility and represents longevity, people often combine familiar activities in their celebration rites. Getting married under the good omen of Yennayer is one of them, as is agricultural initiation ceremonies such as sending their children to the farm to select their own fruits and vegetables.
According to activists who talked to Morocco World News, the Yennayer began in 950 B.C. with the Amazigh triumph against Egypt. “Under the leadership of ‘Chachanq,’ also known as ‘Cheshung,’ the Amazigh people built a new kingdom that controlled from Libya to Egypt,” El Hiyani added. This heroic triumph ushered in the “Amazigh date” 2971 years ago.
Yennayer’s political philosophy
Despite the fact that the Berber Amazigh New Year is extensively observed, it is not yet recognized as a national holiday in Morocco.
Every year, as the festival approaches, Amazigh campaigners strive to attract attention to their cause. While there has been widespread support for Yennayer’s national recognition, it is not without its detractors. Researchers like Abdel Rahman Farkish have suggested that Amazigh demands should be denied, even questioning the holiday’s historical authenticity.
Morocco World News queried Abdelwahed Dirouche, an Amazigh activist and member of the House of Parliament, about similar remarks in a 2018 interview. He answered by emphasizing the holiday’s social importance. “You can’t just claim it’s a France creation,” he emphasized.
Driouche went on to explain why Yennayer is important in cultural terms. He said that it is significant not just for Moroccan Amazigh people, but also for Moroccan society as a whole.
Deroche said that “Yennayer promotes religious and cultural pluralism in a world where terrorism and extremism are on the rise.” “Yennayer is a celebration that celebrates the natural marvels of children and the environment, rather than religious rituals.”
Morocco established the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture in 2001, and Moroccan politicians have subsequently responded to mounting calls for Amazigh cultural and historical legitimacy.
Some important successes over the last two decades have been the incorporation of Tamazight on road signs and in school curriculum, as well as unparalleled national acknowledgment of Amazigh culture and customs.
Despite these considerable advances, Amazigh campaigners are nonetheless frustrated that a festival as socially important as Yennayer is still dismissed as “unhistorical.”
Activists’ attempts to recognize Yennayer as a national holiday in Morocco will continue as the Amazigh people prepare for this year’s festivities.
Moroccan will celebrate Berber Amazigh New Year today.
Morocco granted the event formal recognition in 2021, with the government stating that 2022 would be the first year for statewide Id Yennar festivities. However, Id Yennayer is still not officially recognized as a holiday in Morocco.
Nonetheless, Amazigh communities throughout the nation commemorate the festival every year. While there are some small variances in how Amazigh groups commemorate January 12, Amazigh in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Western Egypt all celebrate Id Yennayer with parades, dances, and traditional music.
This year marks the 2972nd anniversary of Id Yennayer, which highlights the Amazigh people’s long history stretching back to 950 B.C. According to historians, Id Yennayer correlates with the enthronement of Amazigh ruler Chichnaq Pharaoh of Egypt, ushering in a new age of an Amazigh dynasty that spread beyond the area of North Africa.
Because Id Yennayer is linked with the deity of fertility and agriculture, Amazigh tribes have traditionally honored the day with rituals and prayers for a bountiful harvesting season.
Id Yennar is also linked to long life and good prosperity. Families give small boys their first haircuts, couples marry, and agricultural initiation ceremonies are performed by sending children to harvest fruits and vegetables for the first time under the good omen of Yennar.