A new year, a new Yennayer. Amazigh 2973 in Amare.

© Frank Jansen

Our seaside city is an international melting pot of cultures, and having 170 different nationalities and a full range of religions in one city means that you also get a whole lot of extra celebrations. In recent years, Amare and Zuiderstrandtheater have made efforts to actively establish themselves as places where everyone in The Hague feels at home. This means that – among others – we now celebrate such annual holidays as Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Nowruz, the Persian New Year. It has made Amare all the richer. 

Next month, Amare will be fully in theme for the Amazigh (Berber) New Year, also known as Yennayer. To be precise, we will be celebrating the first month of the new year 2973 – a somewhat different number than in the Western calendar, due to the fact that the Amazigh calendar began counting in 943 B.C., which is when the Amazigh Shoshenq I acceded to the throne of Egypt. 

Amare’s mission is to be a place for all people of The Hague. Considering that more than 70% of all Moroccan-Dutch citizens with a Berber/Amazigh background live in The Hague, we are certainly not going to let this special holiday pass by unnoticed! 

Together, with Paris, The Hague plays host to the biggest Yennayer celebration in Europe.
- Mustapha Barbouch

Initiator Mustapha Barbouch (Multicultureel Jongerengeluid) notes that Yennayer has been celebrated in the Netherlands for a while, but not consistently and not as grandly as it ought to be. “In The Hague, we have been building up the Yennayer festivities since the 90s, and after the Anton Philipszaal and Zuiderstrandtheater, we have now found a place in Amare. The large scale of our Yennayer celebration is unique in the Netherlands, comparable to Paris, where it always attracts hundreds of people.” Barbouch explains that the event in The Hague is a true family celebration, attracting people from far beyond the Dutch borders. “Yennayer in The Hague is a celebration of connection. A festival of coming together in a familial atmosphere that everyone with an Amazigh background looks forward to. As the older generation, we also find it important to introduce the new generation of young people with Amazigh backgrounds to their cultural identity. We see a lot of identity crises among youths these days, and celebrations such as this can help them find their cultural identity. And it’s also a great opportunity for other citizens of The Hague to discover the rich Amazigh culture.”

Saturday 14 January therefore promises to be an unforgettable evening full of surprising and unexpected musical (and other) encounters. Highlight of the night is a concert by singer Najat Aâtabou with Marmoucha Orchestra, with special guests Sabrina, Mimoun Rafroua, Milouda, and Abdelkader Ariaf, guaranteeing a proper afterparty! The programme was specially put together for this occasion, consisting of a selection from their varied collective repertoire, of course sung in Tamazight as well.

You can also explore the rich Amazigh culture by taking part in an Izran percussion workshop, by browsing a pop-up Amazigh book market, and by enjoying various delicious treats.

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