The Purple Cross, Axum, Ethiopia

Photograph by Tom Evans

flickr  flickr

On a trip to Ethiopia last September I was lucky enough to visit the town of Axum soon after the Ethiopian New Year. Ethiopian’s celebrate New Year in September rather than January, they are currently in the year 2005 – I’d unknowingly travelled back in time!

The town of Axum holds a series of celebrations for New Year and I was lucky enough to witness the last day of the celebrations for the year. 

Waking early we left the hotel in the dark, heading for the main square. Here thousands of locals would gather, dressed in white, to pray and listen to the local leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

In the Ethiopian Orthodox religion It is believed that the Arc of the Covenant is kept in Axum, and during this celebration it is paraded around the town. As the ceremony continued the sun rose, giving me the fantastic opportunity to photograph the occasion. Here I’ve photographed a small portion of the thousands of people praying, the colour bringing out the cross perfectly.



5 Responses

  1. avatar

    Fascinating – so neat that they have a different year there in Ethiopia! Is it only the Ethiopian Orthodox believers who go by the different year?

  2. avatar
    Tom Evans

    Hi Damon,

    Apologies – I probably wasn’t very clear on that; the whole country go by the same calendar (i.e. it’s 2005 for all of them) but all international business is obviously carried out with the normal western calendar. Their months are completely different to ours but many people are aware of both calendars.


  3. avatar

    Fascinating! Thanks for the additional info, it sounds pretty unique….definitely going to Wiki it to learn more about Ethiopia now

  4. avatar

    Great photography – Ethiopia is a pretty amazing place with some very unique traditions and a rich culture!


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