There are two New Year’s Day celebrations in Morocco each January. Meryam Demnati tells us about the second one

Now that January is outta the way and the new year, new me stuff on social media seems to have disappeared, I feel like we can finally get on with life. Who’s with me?

I returned to Morocco on 27 December 2019 to manage my Tasting Marrakech because wowza we were busy. I then rang in 2020 by tucking in to bed early after a dinner for one at my local restaurant (and incredibly busy days at work).

But 31 December wasn’t the only new year celebrated in Morocco.

On episode 29 of Why Morocco, I chatted with Amazigh activist Meryam Demnati about Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year celebrated across Morocco on 12 January, marking the start of the agricultural calendar. While Meryam’s based between Rabat and Marrakech, we chatted by telephone as she was in the capital of Morocco celebrating Yennayer in front of the parliament buildings.

Meryam explained Yennayer traditions, the agricultural calendar and other Amazigh celebrations throughout the year. I learned so much from her about the Amazigh movement in Morocco and North Africa, and why January first and the Islamic New Year are recognized bank holidays here in Morocco, but Yennayer is not.

Most travellers in Morocco will meet the native people of Morocco but also North Africa – Amazigh or Berbers as they are more often called – and so Meryem answered some questions I had about the status of the language and the Tifinagh alphabet, recognition of the culture and the causes the Amazigh movement has and continues to work on since post-independence in Morocco.

Listen to my chat with Meryam on Spotify

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