Adwa Victory Day

The Battle of Adwa was a military clash between Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia and Italian forces at Adwa, Ethiopia, in 1896. Ethiopia managed to defeat Italy, and as a result, they put a check on Italy’s attempt to build an empire on the continent of Africa. It was the first crushing defeat of a European power by African forces during the time of colonialism.

This victory is memorialized thanks to the holiday Adwa Victory Day—a public holiday that is celebrated on the 2nd of March every year in Ethiopia. It’s a day off for the general population and a chance for people to enjoy meals with friends and family members.

The History of Adwa Victory Day in Ethiopia

During the colonial era, most of Africa had come under the control of European forces. All except for the country of Ethiopia, which maintained itself as a sovereign nation and kept a strong monarchy and military forces. In 1889, Ethiopia had signed the Treaty of Wuchale with Italy, but there were problems with the treaty from the very beginning.

There were significant differences in how the Ethiopian and the Italian versions of the treaty were interpreted differently by the two countries. Ethiopia interpreted the treaty as showing support for Italy, while Italy interpreted it as Ethiopia becoming an Italian protectorate.

The confusion would lead to the Italo-Ethiopian War in 1895. During this war, the Italians had some initial success but were quickly counterattacked by Ethiopian forces. Eventually, Ethiopia would gain a significant victory at the Battle of Adwa in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.

It was not only the first victory by an African country over a European colonial power, but it was also the inspiration for the Pan-African movement that swept the continent, leading to many colonial powers being ejected from the country.

Observing Adwa Victory Day in Ethiopia

All across Ethiopia, Adwa Victory Day is celebrated. First off, all post offices, schools, and government buildings are closed for the day. Also, many businesses are closed as well. In the capital of Addis Ababa, there’s usually also a parade and procession to celebrate the day.

Where is it celebrated?
Ethiopia (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 2 Saturday
Next year (2025)
March 2 Sunday
Last year (2023)
March 2 Thursday