There are 3 main public holidays in May; May Day holiday on 1 May (Labour Day) is an international holiday but the other two are specifically Ethiopian and tied up in the 20th century history off the country.


Patriots’ Day is on 5th May (Miazza 27) and commemorates Haile Selassie’s triumphal return to Addis Ababa, ending the five-year occupation of the city by Italian forces in World War II. In particular it honours the Ethiopian patriots (Arbegnoch) who fought for the liberation of their country alongside British (troops from Africa) and other Allied Forces from the Commonwealth countries, France and Belgium). This year, 77 years after this historic occasion, the very few surviving Patriots that are still able will lay a wreath at Arat Kilo in the centre of Addis Ababa.


At the end of the month comes the Downfall of the Derg on 28th May (Genbot Haya (20)) commemorating the date when EPRDF forces entered Addis Ababa ending the rule of Mengistu’s government, which was known as the Derg.


The Derg was the name given to the committee of the military and police that coordinated the new government following the over throw of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The Derg, initially a temporary military committee, manoeuvred to take over the government, deposed and imprisoned the Emperor Haile Selassie in September 1974.

In August 1975 he was killed in slightly mysterious circumstances. The Derg also formally abolished the monarchy and formally took on the communist ideology.


Mengistu Haile Mariam quickly rose through the ranks to become the chairman in 1977, enforcing the Derg’s power; the Derg regime also imposed nationalisation of land and businesses and increasingly faced armed rebellion in Eritrea and Tigray.  The Derg officially came to an end as a system of government in February 1987, and in September that year a new government “People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia” came into force. The collapse of Mengistu’s government became inevitable in early 1991 with EPRDF forces capturing cities such as Gondar, Bahir Dar and Dessie. On 28th May 1991, (Genbot 20) EPRDF forces entered Addis Ababa with very little fighting.


These holidays give you a chance for a long weekend here or there and are excellent opportunities to get out and see some of the stunning countryside and historical sights of Ethiopia. Why not book a Tesfa trek, a perfect way to see the scenery, culture and some of the wildlife that abounds in Ethiopia.