Assyrians celebrate New Year ‘Akitu’ across Middle East

Assyrians celebrate Akitu with dances in Rojava's Tell Tamer, 1 April 2017 (Photo: ANHA).

The Assyrian community celebrated the 6767th Babylonian Assyrian New Year on Saturday. Also known as the Akitu Festival, the day marks the rebirth of nature in the spring and is one of the oldest religious festivals in the world.

The Akitu Festival, celebrated by the Assyrian community since Babylonian times was banned in Turkey for “security reasons” until 2005 when the Assyrians in Midyat organised celebrations under the name of “The Assyrian Spring Festival.”

The president of the Mesopotamia Culture and Solidarity Association (MEZO-DER) Tuma Ozdemir wished that the festival “brings peace to everyone,” reported Dihaber News Agency on Saturday.

“This holiday is another testament of the country’s proud, rich heritage and cultural richness,” said the UN’s representative to Iraq, Jan Kubis, in a statement extending his greetings to Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs, according to a report on the news site Rudaw.

Assyrians marking the day in Duhok, northern Iraq expressed their pride and emotion in their ancient traditions.

An Assyrian woman dressed in her traditional clothes said, “I am proud to wear my traditional and ancestors’ garments today as they show our beautiful and historic symbols.”

The day was also celebrated in Tell Tamer, in Syria’s autonomous region, Rojava, with the participation of representatives from the North Syria Democratic Federation, the Assyrian Democratic Party and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), reported Hawar News Agency.