Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Amazigh New Year 2964

During January, Dar Si Hmad celebrated the Amazigh New Year.

This new year is 2964 and we are happy to say that throughout the Berber world, from southern Egypt to the Canary Islands, from the tip of North Africa to Southern Mali, all of us join together in celebrating almost 3000 years of preservation and cultural renewal. The Amazigh new year happens on January 13th every year.  Different Amazigh communities have different names for the event, and here in our part of Morocco we refer to it as Id usggass or Id Yennayer, meaning the new year’s eve.

The foundational moment from which the counting started goes back to the coronation of Pharon Sheshong, 26th Dynasty, that is the 6th Century BC.  This is an event that has been reconstructed to bear a profound meaning for the Amazigh identity and culture.  

In the Ait Baamrane region, the most widespread means of celebration is through food.  The typical dish being a3sida-Tagula (new year grains cooked and eaten with oil and honey), with a date pit bearing luck for the person to find it.  In other parts of the Berber world, it is celebrated via Couscous with seven vegetables, and herbel (the new shoots of wheat cooked with milk and served with honey).  All the dishes prepared for the celebration of  Id usggas are symbolically calling upon abundance and sweetness.  

The  Id usggas calendar is also reminiscent of the Julian Calendar that has been in use until the 16th century in Europe.  Though these calendars follow the movement of the sun, the moon and the stars, they are more importantly rooted in the seasonal and agricultural realities of the time.

The Amazigh activists in Morocco and elsewhere are reviving and valorizing the celebration of the Amazigh new year. The call from the Amazigh Rights’ associations and movements to recognize the Amazigh new year as an official national holiday .

Similarly to Kwanzaa the African New Year that African Americans celebrate in the USA, Nawruz the Iranian New Year, or the Chinese New Year and many others, Id usggas speaks about a cultural particularity and carries meaning for the people as it ties them to their history and heritage.

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