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“Asseggas Ameggaz! This Amazigh expression (Berber) which means “happy new year” is on everyone’s lips in Algeria, on the eve of the celebration, this Wednesday, January 12, of Yennayer (1st day of the year in the Berber agrarian calendar). Also celebrated in the majority of North African countries and in the Sahel region, this event is celebrated in a special way by Algerians.

Throughout the national territory, from east to west and from north to south, Algeria lives to the rhythm of all kinds of festivities: official ceremonies, exhibitions on ancestral habits and customs, and display of the culinary art and local dress, ranging from couscous with chicken to different shapes of cakes. Algerian families do not miss this meeting, the name of which also differs depending on the region.

While Yennayer is most widely used in the country, it is also called “Ayred” in the Tlemcen region, in the far west of Algeria, or “Aam 3rab (Arab year) in some Arabic-speaking regions. But the meaning remains the same. For the Amazighs of Algeria celebrating the year 2972, this event symbolizes the attachment of the farmer and herder to the land.

This is an opportunity to wish a new fertile and abundant agricultural year, so attached the Berbers were, for millennia, to working the land.

Officially recognized as a paid national day off, since January 2017, the Berber New Year is also an identity and historical symbol. It refers to belonging to a language and culture that have withstood time and the various colonizations and invasions of Algeria and North Africa in general.

Where does this party come from? If it was part of North African customs, its institution as the “Amazigh New Year” is very recent. It is the work of the Berber Academy, founded in Paris by a group of activists for the Amazigh cause. It was in 1980. And it was Ammar Negadi who put forward a Berber calendar, based on a significant event in the history of the Amazigh people, an indisputable historical fact to make it the zero point of the calendar.

His choice fell on the year 950 BC which corresponds to the date when the Berber king Sheshonq I (also spelled Chichnaq or Chichneq) was enthroned pharaoh of Egypt and founded the XXII dynasty which reigned over Egypt. until the year 715 BC. J.-C.

This Berber king had succeeded in unifying Egypt and then invaded the Kingdom of Israel. He is said to have captured the treasures of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem in 926 BC. But it took decades of struggle by Amazigh activists for the Algerian authorities to officially recognize this date and mark it as an official national day.

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