New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar: Yennayer is the festivity that welcomes the Amazigh new year. The Moroccan Berbers celebrate this day on January 13, in memory of the agricultural calendar that marked, through the work in the fields, the annual cycles in an eminently agrarian society.
The first Berber calendar was created by the specialist in Berber culture Ammar Negadi, who looked for an event that was such an important historical fact as to be considered the starting point of the Berber era, as is established with the Jewish hegira or the birth of Christ in the Christian era.
New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
To this end, he decided to place the year 950 B.C. as the zero point of the calendar, coinciding with the date on which the Berber king Sheshonq I, pharaoh of Amazigh descent, acceded to the throne and initiated the 22nd Egyptian dynasty. The Berber Academy of Paris accepted the proposal in 1980, being the first date in Berber history to have a written reference.
The Berber agricultural calendar, instead of following the Gregorian calendar – which is the one used by most countries in the world since the 16th century – derives from the Julian calendar, established in Africa with the domination of Rome.
The Roman emperor Julius Caesar created this calendar in 46 B.C. to reflect the different agricultural works carried out according to the seasons. However, it had a small disadvantage compared to the Gregorian calendar, as it is delayed by one day for each century, which explains why the yennayer holiday has moved from January 13 in the 20th century to January 14 in the 21st century. Despite this, each country places the traditional yennayer celebration on a fixed, symbolic day. In Algeria, for example, it is January 12, while in Morocco it takes place on the 13th.
The term yennayer comes from the Latin name “ianuarius”, which is also the origin of our word “January”. It was named after Janus, the Roman god of doors and openings. It is the month in which the sun begins to overcome the night and the days lengthen, offering the hope of a good year. New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar.
A traditional celebration
The festivity with which Yennayer is celebrated varies from country to country, although all of them have in common that they are festivities of family gatherings, where traditions, the worship of the land and ancestors are present.
Understood as a way of reinforcing the identity of the Amazigh people, who still struggle today for their linguistic and cultural rights, the festivity begins with the imensi n yennayer or the eve of Yennayer, when families gather to await the arrival of the new year.
The Yennayer meal is hearty and more special than what is eaten every day in homes, as it marks the beginning of the year and thus symbolizes a turning point, with the hope that the times to come will be better than those left behind.
New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
The most common Yennayer dish in Berber homes is a couscous with seven vegetables and in many localities it is accompanied by the sacrifice of an animal, usually chicken, which is cooked with a red sauce in memory of the blood that stained the Nile when the troops of Pharaoh Sheshonq I sacrificed dozens of chickens to celebrate their victory.
Dried fruits and other traditional dishes, such as tajine, are also tasted in a feast that lasts three days, in which music and traditional dances will not be absent. In many houses there is also a ritual in which the adults drop sweets on the heads of the youngest children to assure them a prosperous future.
Yennayer as a national holiday
The Yennayer is only a national holiday in Algeria. Six years ago, the president of the country, Abdelaziz Bouteflika made it official to consolidate the identity of the Amazigh people, although the measure was criticized from different spheres.
As a sign of identity, history and culture of the Berber people, 45 Amazigh organizations have recently asked the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, to recognize the Yennayer as a national holiday, in view of the steps being taken in the country to recognize the Berber culture.
New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
Tamazight, the official language of the Amazigh people, is not official in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt or Libya, but in Morocco it has been since 2011. And although Arabic dominates in the institutions, there have been great advances since then, such as the introduction of the Berber language in the Parliament and the Public Administration, which already receives and serves the public in this language in sectors such as health, justice, social protection, culture or communication. This language, which is the mother tongue of one third of the Moroccan population, is also studied in elementary school.
Yennayer in Morocco
In Morocco, many communities throughout the country celebrate Yennayer on January 13. On this day, some state administrations congratulate the Berber people in their language.
The Berber population dresses in yellow, red, green and blue, the colors of the Amazigh flag, to welcome a new year. In the villages there is music, dance and parades, and in the houses delicious stews, such as irkmen, a kind of soup made with beans and wheat. Dates and dried fruits will not be lacking either. And if someone in the family finds a piece of almond on his or her plate, congratulations are in order, as it means that he or she will be very lucky in the new year, just like the figurine hidden in the Three Kings’ cake.
New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
During the Yennayer festivities, all are omens of goodwill and good wishes, even with those who are not members of the Berber culture. The people of the villages iron out their differences with neighbors by exchanging food or nuts. And in towns like Essaouira or Agadir, street parties and collective dinners are organized, with music and popular sports, and even horse parades.
Yennayer is the festival that ushers in the new year for the Amazigh people. Every January 13, the Berbers of Morocco gather around a table, as they did in the past, when the calendar was marked by the harvests, to enjoy a feast with traditional dishes and ancestral rites. A festivity to be together and to strengthen the pride of feeling part of the Amazigh people, with its marked cultural identity.
See also Guide to traveling with pets to Morocco
Pets, especially dogs, are not very popular in Morocco. However, there are plenty of people who choose to have animals in their homes. Many expatriates enjoy having their animals in their homes. Birds, turtles, cats, fish, puppies, dogs, and many other animals are often sold in the souks. In Morocco’s major cities, there are a few pet boutiques. Morocco’s streets are littered with stray cats and dogs.
Very few Moroccans keep dogs as pets, and many of them think they are dirty and unclean animals. Touching a dog eliminates the cleanliness required for daily prayers, so they try to stay away from them.
If you are going to travel with a dog to Morocco or with a cat, or with any other animal you should read carefully this article where we explain all the requirements.
Documents required to travel with your pet to Morocco
Traveling with your pet to Morocco can be a serious problem if it is done without the proper guarantees, that is to say, without fulfilling a series of prerequisites. However, the problem does not arise when leaving Spain, but when you intend to return with your pet, dog, cat or ferret.
The conditions to be met by animals intending to enter Spain are as follows:
To be at least seven months old and to be vaccinated and revaccinated against rabies, being the last vaccination in force. In addition, the animal must be identified with a microchip. And it must also have an anti-rabies serological test carried out in a laboratory accredited by the EU (Granada and Valencia, at the moment) from an extraction carried out by a veterinarian at least 30 days after the last vaccination against rabies and showing a result of at least 0.5 Ul/ml. whose results, as well as the period of less than one year since the last rabies vaccination (make sure that the year is not completed during the stay in Morocco to avoid problems) must be transcribed in the passport and stamped by the competent authority (Environment, currently) of the Autonomous Community to which the animal belongs. All this information must be contained in the European Passport of the pet or, if you do not have it, in an official certificate with the information required by the Government of Spain, signed and stamped by the Moroccan health authority.
The animal’s passport must also contain the following information:
This passport must be signed by a veterinarian.
The date and mark of the vaccinations
The chip code
The date of the deworming tablet, which must be at the latest one week before the trip.
The label of the pipette.
It is also necessary, but not obligatory, to put a recent photo.
Foreigners who live in Morocco do not need to obtain supplementary pet licenses.
There are veterinarians in Morocco, but they can be difficult to find as pets here are not very popular. Small and rural towns are likely to have only one veterinarian, so you may have to travel to larger cities such as Tangier, Fez, Meknes, Rabat, Casablanca, or Marrakech…
In Fez, there is an animal hospital called the Fondook Americana, established to help Moroccans learn to take better care of their pets, as well as to medically treat the animals. With a few exceptions, the standard of care for the animals is of high quality.
Most of the special pet foods can be found in local veterinary clinics, as well as most medications. Also, major supermarket chains such as Marjane, Aswak Assalam, and Acima have entire aisles dedicated to pet care.
For more information about pets in Morocco, it is important to consult with the Consulate for more information about bringing pets into the country.
See also Divorce in Morocco: things are changing
Divorce in Morocco has been changing as society has evolved. The number of divorcing couples is increasing year after year, partly because of the leading role women are taking in defending their rights. The rules in force in Morocco are becoming more and more similar to those in the West, although they still maintain certain traditional aspects.
Today, divorce in Morocco takes place in a legal environment, with the judiciary in charge of guaranteeing the rights of the divorced woman and her children. And although many people continue to view marriage through a religious prism that speaks of the perpetuity of the institution, the regulations establish that, under sentence, the marriage certificate, understood as a contract agreed between the two spouses, can be rescinded.
Increase in divorces
The number of marriages has increased in recent years in Morocco. It has gone from 236,574 marriages in 2004 to the celebration of 269,978 weddings in 2021, according to official records, which reflects that it continues to enjoy the approval of Moroccans.
However, and in parallel, the number of divorces in Morocco has not stopped increasing in recent years either. Thus, it has gone from 7,213 divorces in 2004 to 55,470 in 2019, a considerable increase in just 15 years.
This significant increase in the figures is due, according to experts, to women’s awareness of their rights and also to female emancipation, which means that they do not have to depend financially on their husbands to get ahead.
In addition, the fact that women have access to the procedure for requesting a divorce, as opposed to what used to happen in the past, when only the name had the power to request it, has also favored it.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not helped either, increasing the number of divorces, and all this despite the fact that the hearings to process them could not be done in person, but online. On the other hand, sociologists also allude that part of the increase in the number of divorces, especially among the youngest, is due to the exposure in social networks of marital problems, which generates tensions in marriage.
On the other hand, the lesser influence of religious motives and a decrease in social and family pressure are also contributing to the fact that more and more women are deciding to divorce. However, in some places, the social stigma of divorced women continues, which means that divorce is more prevalent in urban environments and among younger and middle-class generations. New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
Measures to stop the divorce
The previous step to the divorce is the request, on the part of the interested party, of the authorization to the Court. Before authorizing it, however, the judge will summon the spouses to try to reconcile. This work of mediation, focused on finding the reasons for disagreements between the spouses in order to put an end to the situation of estrangement, is one of the aspects that differentiate the divorce in Morocco from that which takes place in the West.
This procedure requires the compulsory physical presence of the husband and wife before the judge. If they are not in Morocco, the reconciliation attempt could be made at the consulate of the country where they are, leaving it to the diplomatic mission to see what is wrong with the marriage.
In any case, the reconciliation attempt, based on the religious values of forgiveness, rarely offers the expected results. As a result, the Administration is considering possible alternatives to curb the number of divorces.
One of these options is marital preparation programs for future husbands, which would include aspects such as sexual and reproductive health and family planning. In the opinion of the Ministry of Justice, counseling future spouses on married life could lay the foundation for healthier relations between spouses.
Modernity versus tradition
On the other hand, the Moroccan Administration and different civil organizations are placing special emphasis on avoiding the marriage of underage girls, exposing to the population, increasingly aware of the physical and psychological repercussions that marriage has on minors.
In this regard, although it is true that Moroccan law sets the minimum age for marriage at 18, it does allow exceptions where the bride is underage if authorized by a judge. This is the reason why such marriages still occur in Morocco, although their number is decreasing year after year thanks to awareness campaigns.
Another issue related to marriage that is culturally far from the West is polygamy. Legally, men in Morocco can have up to four wives, as long as they agree and sign a written authorization, and taking into account that the husband must present objective and exceptional causes that justify another marriage, in addition to a statement about his economic solvency that demonstrates that he can support all the families.
If these conditions are met, the Court may authorize polygamy, which is only in exceptional cases. Nowadays, and especially after the regulatory reform established in 2004, polygamy is less and less accepted by the population and therefore less frequent in Morocco. New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar
Similarities with Western divorce
Nowadays, the Moroccan divorce, and except for specific aspects such as the attempt of reconciliation, has great points in common with respect to the Spanish regulations, especially in rights previously not recognized towards the woman.
Moroccan divorce laws have been modernized over the years in matters referring to the rights and duties of the spouses, concerning aspects such as, for example, child support, an obligation that is now also attributed to the Moroccan woman, in line with Western codes. In this sense, what the Moroccan Family Code establishes is the need to ensure that the children are not harmed.
Other aspects that are included in both the Spanish and Moroccan legislation are the compensation in the separation, with judicial intervention in case the spouses do not reach an agreement; the capacity to contract marriage, both in age and mental faculties; or the matrimonial nullity depending on the existence of causes for the same.
In the face of all this, the laws continue to include aspects of tradition, such as the reference to the dowry that is offered to show the desire to marry, build a family and lay the foundations for cohabitation. Although the dowry today has more symbolic than monetary value, the Moroccan Family Code states that “it is the property of the woman and she can dispose of it as she wishes”.
Despite the efforts of the authorities, and figures such as the reconciliation attempt, the number of divorces in Morocco continues to increase. The modernization of society, with the incipient emancipation of women, is what has led to a new approach to the regulation of divorce in Morocco, which already includes issues such as the equality of men and women, divorce by mutual consent or the age of majority for marriage. The privileges of the male, by the fact of being a man, are being left behind. New Year’s Day of the Amazigh calendar