'Assegas Amegaz': How Amazighs celebrate the Amazigh New Year of 2974 worldwide

'Assegas Amegaz': How Amazighs celebrate the Amazigh New Year of 2974 worldwide
Over the weekend, Amazighs celebrated Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year of 2974. From Morocco to Libya, joy, sorrow and political struggle marked the celebrations.
4 min read
15 January, 2024
On Sunday 14 January, hundreds of Amazighs gathered in front of the parliament in Rabat to honour 'the quake's martyrs.' [Getty]

Cheering the phrase, "Assegas Amegaz," over the weekend, Amazighs around the world celebrated Idh Yennayer, the start of the Amazigh new year 2974.

While historians may be divided regarding the celebration's origins, they all agree that "Idh Yennayer" commemorates land, community and indigeneity.

Here's how the Amazighs around the world celebrated. 


This year, "Idh Yennayer" celebrations in the North African kingdom were marked by both victory and loss. 

This is the first time the state granted Moroccan Amazighs a paid holiday on their New Year's Day, a symbolic recognition they have fought for for decades.  

But the joy was lacking. Last year, the community suffered heavy losses in September's strong earthquake, losing some 3,000 members and further impoverishing the High Atlas' Amazigh community. 

On Sunday, 14 January, hundreds of Amazighs gathered in front of the parliament in Rabat to honour 'the quake's martyrs.' 

"As Amazighs, we all lost family (in the earthquake). In our villages, we all call each other cousins even if we are not related by blood; we are related by the land, by the community we share," said Assif, an Amazigh student based in Rabat. 

Nevertheless, Moroccan Amazighs have mastered the art of turning their sorrows into melodic lullabies over the years. After a few minutes of prayers, the crowd sang and danced to classic Amazigh songs. Children joyfully joined the dance, showing off their best traditional Amazigh clothes and jewellery.

Later, the crowd shared Tagola, a traditional dish of couscous, argan oil, and honey, as they tried to find the hidden date seed. It's believed that whoever finds the seed will be blessed throughout the year. 

Celebrations of Amazigh new year in front of the Parliament, Rabat, Morocco. [Getty]


In Algeria, the celebrations were on a bigger scale. Over the weekend, Amazighs in the North African country attended dozens of musical and cultural events over Algeria's 58 wilayas (provinces). 

In Tizi Ouzou, the capital of Bejaia, the wilaya with the biggest Kbyali Amazigh community, a week-long market of traditional Amazigh goods was inaugurated to commemorate the new year, support Amazigh artisans and shed light on the struggling Amazigh art crafts. 

In the capital, Algiers, hundreds of Algerians gathered in front of 'la poste' on Friday, 12 January, to welcome the new year. Amazigh songs, usually about political struggle and missing the homeland, have become a staple in "Idh Yennayer," a celebration denied for decades.  

In 2018, Algeria announced the Amazigh New Year as an official celebration.  


In France, every year, the Amazigh community, accounting for around 2 million people, organises several festivities and cultural events to celebrate Yennayer, bringing together the North African Amazigh community from Paris, Lyon and beyond.  

Paris, the city with the largest Amazigh community in the world, is a favoured celebration destination among Amazighs in the European country. 

This year, the Association Village Tallouine hosted a grand "Idh Yennayer" celebration in the capital, with hundreds of Amazigh North Africans attending the traditional gala.

"These events are crucial for kids and teenagers to learn more about their culture and traditions," said Lamia, a Paris-based Moroccan-Algerian Amazigh and mother of two who attended the event.

Every year, France-based Amazighs struggle to make time to celebrate their new year as most companies and schools in the country do not grant a day off on "Idh Yennayer". 

Falling on a weekend this year, many Amazighs based in France managed to gather with family or even travel to North Africa to celebrate.

"I am beyond happy to be able to celebrate this year with my kids and my family in Morocco. Idh Yennayer is about the land, and celebrating in your homeland feels different," said Meriem, who has travelled from Paris to Agadir for the celebrations. 

Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania

In Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania, the Amazigh people continue to fight for their recognition as their heritage and language are still marginalised.  

In 2017, Libya recognised Tamazight (Amazigh language) as an official language in the country. 

However, political and military conflicts have sabotaged the country's journey to Amazigh recognition.