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Yennayer

Algeria Public Holiday in Algeria

The holiday was established to celebrate Berber New Year on 12 January

When is Yennayer?

How long until Yennayer?
This holiday next takes place in 268 Days.
Dates of
Year Weekday Date
2019 Saturday January 12
2018 Friday January 12
Duration
1 Day
Summary
From 2018, a public holiday will be observed across Algeria to mark Yennayer, the Berber New Year

Yennayer is a public holiday in Algeria on 12 January.

It marks the start of the Berber New Year. In December 2017, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria announced that Yennayer would henceforth be a paid non-working day across the country on 12 January.

History of Yennayer

The Berber calendar has been in use for many centuries. Its origin is as an agrarian calendar, based around the seasons and agricultural tasks, inspired by the Julian solar calendar.

Yennayer is the Berber word for January. Under the change from Julian to the Gregorian calendar, 12 days were lost, which is why the Berber New Year begins on 12 January.

Some historians say that the calendar dates from the day that King Chachnaq defeated the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III in 950 BC.

Yennayer is a day for the Berber community to showcase their rich cultural and artistic heritage. The New Year will be celebrated with communal feasts consisting of traditional meals of couscous and chicken, dancing, playing traditional games, and horse parades.

The Berbers, who refer to themselves as the Amazigh ('free man'), are descendants of North Africa’s pre-Arab inhabitants. About a quarter of the population of Algeria are Berber.

The Amazigh language and culture and the celebration of Yennayer are not unique to Algeria as there are also significant Berber communities in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali and Niger. You will even find Berbers in the Canary Islands, in the Egyptian desert and in northern Burkina Faso.

The recognition of the Amazigh New Year with a public holiday is part of an ongoing process to recognise the Amazigh population in Algeria and has been a major claim of the civil rights movement in Algeria since the 1980s.


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