Algerians celebrate Berber New Year amid calls for official holiday

Published January 11th, 2017 - 11:33 GMT
Algeria is this week celebrating Berber New Year, but it is not an official holiday (Wikimedia Commons)
Algeria is this week celebrating Berber New Year, but it is not an official holiday (Wikimedia Commons)

Most of us celebrated eleven days ago, but the Algerian Berber community will mark the beginning of the New Year on Thursday.

Many Algerians have taken to social media to celebrate the beginning of the year 2967 in the Berber, or Amazigh, calendar.

Twitter was filled overnight with pictures of traditional festivities, including parties, the preparation of couscous and Chakhchoukha, a traditional Algerian dish, and the greeting “Assgass amagaz” meaning “Happy New Year.”

A very Happy New Year to all Algerians #AmazighNewYear God willing, may our days be full of joy and festivals, and may Algeria be peaceful and secure.

Our land, nature, giving and peace #AmazighNewYear

Meanwhile, many Imazighen (the plural form of Amazigh) have called for Jan 12 to be a national holiday in Algeria. Currently, only New Year in the Islamic and Gregorian calendars are state holidays.

The opposition Socialist Forces Front (FFS) party called on Sunday for the prime minister to establish an official holiday to mark the occasion, HuffPost Arabi reported.

“We should officially respect this aspect of Algerian tradition,” a representative of FFS, which derives most of its support from Berber areas east of the capital, indicated in a statement.

The calls follow a major breakthrough for Imazighen in February last year, when their language was recognized as an official language in Algeria, meaning it can now appear in official documents. 

The Berber community makes up around 13 million of Algeria’s population 39 million.

RA

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