What is Ethiopian New Year That Nation is Celebrating on Tuesday?

© AP PhotoEthiopian New Year
Ethiopian New Year - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 12.09.2023
Unlike for most Western countries, which celebrate the New Year in January, for Ethiopians, the new year usually begins on September 11 according to the Gregorian calendar. Why does the country celebrate the holiday in fall? What are their festive traditions? Sputnik Africa studied the history of the ancient holiday.
Enkutatash, the New Year in Ethiopia is celebrated on September 11 or September 12 during leap years, the country's citizens are welcoming the year 2016 on Tuesday.
The difference between the Western and Ethiopian timeline could be explained by the fact that the East African country follows a 13-month calendar similar to that used in many Eastern Orthodox churches, trailing the western calendar by seven years and eight months.

Why is Ethiopian New Year in September?

There are two versions of why the Ethiopians celebrate the holiday at the beginning of fall. One version suggests that this is because the Earth was created in September, according to the Bible.
The second one refers to the legend about the Ethiopian Queen Sheba (Queen Makeda in Ethiopian), who over 3,000 years ago visited King Solomon to ask for his wisdom. According to the legend, along with answering her questions, the king gifted the queen with many valuable things to take back to Ethiopia with her.
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The queen returned to the country at the end of the dry summer, and her comeback was marked by the miraculous blooming of yellow flowers in the foothills surrounding Addis Ababa, which indicated the end of the drought.

However, scientists argue that the Queen Sheba received the jewels from her followers as a present on her return. According to the researchers, that is how the holiday got the name "Enkutatash," which means "gift of jewels."

© AFP 2023 AMANUEL SILESHIEthiopian New Year
Ethiopian New Year - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 12.09.2023
Ethiopian New Year

How Locals Celebrate This Holiday?

The celebration is both religious and secular. The day starts with church services, followed by the family meal. The Raguel Church, 2.5 kilometers far away from Addis Ababa, on Mount Entoto, is one of the main sites of the celebration.
The traditional table for the holiday includes chicken stew, injera (flat bread), wat (sauce), local honey-based wine and fresh Ethiopian coffee.
Apart from conventional dishes, some people exchange bouquets of the yellow flowers as those which greeted the Queen Sheba. According to another tradition, going from house to house, girls sing a traditional song called "Abebayehosh" and boys offer paintings. In exchange, the children are offered money as a gesture of gratitude.
According to other sources, some girls spend the day gathering daisies and giving the bouquets to their friends, while wearing new clothes and singing New Year's songs.
In the evening, families light bonfires and sing and dance around the fire, while sharing good wishes for the upcoming year. Usually, the celebration lasts for the whole night, ending at sunrise.
According to the Ethiopian Tourism Commission, modern Enkutatash is not only a religious holiday, the urban inhabitants, nowadays, often replace the traditional bouquet of flowers with formal new year greetings and cards.