Hoya Hoye Festival

“There is a festival in Ethiopia. It’s called “Hoya Hoye.” It’s in August, which is in neḥāsē. I forgot exactly what it’s about, but the big thing that we always do is like we have a huge bonfire in our front yard, so to speak, and you just kinda like chant with like sticks, which we call “dulas” and they’re like taller than you and your like “duh duh duh” and then, you’re like “Hoya hoye, yeena geatta.” It’s a religious festival because “yeena geatta” menas like kinda like “My Savior,” so you are like praising Jesus.”

The Hoya Hoye festival is widely renowned throughout Ethiopia. It is a festival that is both very participatory within your family, but also within the entire neighborhood. Even though the houses in Ethiopia are separated by gates, people come together in celebration by banging on their neighbors gates saying “Hoya hoye” or “Salem.” It is a simple way of saying hello during the festival in a friendly way that brings the community together to celebrate.

The informant compared it to the typical American celebration for the Fourth of July, where people will have a barbecue with a lot of their family and friends coming together to celebrate. However, instead of patriotism, it is religious. For both though, there is the sense of community and connection to your culture and the people within it.

The informant explained that she would never celebrate Hoya Hoye in Oregon, where she is from, because the community and appreciation is not there. However, she has been able to go the last couple of years to Ethiopia to experience this. She explained that it was a real honor to be present at that time.

The festival usually falls between August 10th and August 20th. For the informant, it has been difficult to make it back to Ethiopia because that is when the fall semester for school begins, but she still has managed to make time for it.

The informant relayed this to me while we were sitting on a bench on the USC campus.

I find it interesting that this festival does not necessarily cross boarders of Ethiopia. With other festivals, like the Indian Holi festival, the people of the culture have been bringing it with them wherever they go, actively continuing it.

For the informant, the Hoya Hoye festival was something that she would never feel comfortable doing outside of Ethiopia. In part, I think it has to do with the lack of people to participate in it in Oregon. I also think that her being a mostly passive bearer also plays a role into why she only feels completely comfortable performing it with others who maybe understand the meaning behind it more.