Eritrea is rich in history and is indeed a land of festivals and diversity; therefore, many festivals are celebrated regularly every year at different places. In Eritrea as well as in the diaspora, festivals don’t just offer people a temporary reprieve from their daily grind.
These festivals are not just about celebration but in fact imbued with deep inner significance of their own. The day on which a particular festival is celebrated has a special traditional, cultural, national and religious significance and certain observances on these days yield manifold benefits. All these festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm and harmony in a colorful atmosphere, and are enjoyed by all people.
Each festival is associated with its particular traditional, cultural, national and religious background that gives a deeper importance as well as underlying the celebration. Each of the different national festivals (such as the annual summer Expo festival, the biannual Eri-youth festival, festivals in the diaspora communities), traditional and cultural festivals (for instance, the annual Abune Ambes festival of Sen’afe), and different religious festivals are some of the common festivals Eritreans celebrate. Especially in the summer, we can see festive atmosphere as well as colorfulness in the home country and the diaspora. The festivals are not meant just for holidays but are related beautifully to life and bring in lots of happiness, color and entertainment to our lives. Some of the benefits of festivals we experience include that they keep us closer to our tradition, culture, religion and nationality. Festivals promote harmony, carry the message of the past generations to the present and the future and create an opportunity of inheriting legacies our forefathers laid, helps preserve our culture and heritage, gives a unique opportunity to gather and spend time with family, friends, and community, offer stress relieving from a hectic working season and many more. Festivals also create an opportunity where cultural views and celebrations are exchanged and build social relations and communications which leads to unity and harmony.
Our national festival celebrations had started in Bologna, Italy which was conducted annually to create an opportunity of developing our national culture and identities, during the Ethiopian colonial time. The national youth festival that is conducted biannually in Eritrea has strong connection to this tradition and shares various features with the Eritrean festivals conducted in different corners of the world.
The Eri-Youth Festival is held in Sawa in every two years. The 8th National Youth Festival will be conducted from 13 to 15 July in Sawa under the theme “Youth: The Vigor of Sustainable Development”. The event will take place in conjunction with the graduation of members of the 31st round and would feature innovation and creativity of the youth, the role of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) over the past 40 years in organizing and nurturing the youth as well as their contribution in the struggle for independence, safeguarding national sovereignty and in the nation-building process.
The Eri-youth festival aims to propagate the spirit of nationalism, brotherhood, creativity and adventure amongst the youth by exhibiting their innovations, cultural show cases and other activities in a common platform. This is regularly done by organizing gatherings of youth from every corner of the country and encouraging them to take part in different activities.
The activities during the festival will feature popular campaigns, cultural and sports programs, seminars, exhibitions and other activities relevant to issues of the youth. Crucial components of the National Eri-Youth Festival are the competitive events in different disciplines. To compete at the national level, the young talents perform their level best to get themselves medals and awards. A number of awards including the “Soira”, “Sawa” and “Innovation and Creativity award” will be handed to the youths who achieved notable success in particular fields and demonstrated excellence in their contribution towards the success of programs of the Union. In addition to this, awards will also be offered to youth who showed outstanding role in innovation and creativity, besides to students who completed High School education abroad.
NUEYS organizes this spectacular event in close cooperation with the Sawa Training Center. Its offices all over the country work in planning, organizing and smooth conduct of the festival, in a way that ensures equal representation of all administrative zones and sub-zones. NUEYS’ branches and members of the Young People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (YPFDJ), as well as others from Eritrean Diaspora communities will also contribute to the success of the festival to make it a huge celebration of Eritrean youth solidarity. All in all, in this years’ festival around 20 thousand youths from inside the country and 1,500 others from the Diaspora will take part. The three-day 8th Festival is expected to solidify unity among the youth from inside the country and the diaspora in addition to sharing experience among one other.