Ethiopia New Year Celebrations
Ethiopia celebrates the start of their New Year, also known as ‘Enkutatash’, on September the 11th. The history of this traditional holiday dates back to biblical times when the Queen of Sheba Makeda returned from her visit to the King Soloman and the elders of the tribe presented her with the welcome gifts of jewels known as ‘enku’. ‘Enkutatash’ translates as ‘Gift of Jewels’ and has been celebrated in the spring season ever since.
Celebrated by both Muslims and Christians, the New Year celebration also coincides with the start of the good weather for harvest season. After months of torrential rain the skies clear and the sun reappears creating fresh, clear and beautiful weather for the festivities. The highlands become covered in gold as the Meskel daisies burst into bloom in all their splendour, a fantastic symbol of the renewed life of the springtime.
On New Year’s Eve torches made out of dry leaves and wood are lit and placed in front of the houses. On the morning of the 11th, families join together to enjoy traditional brewed coffee in the morning and Tella, the locally brewed beer, in the evening. Dancing and singing can be heard in the villages as children skip through the streets presenting their neighbours with painted pictures and traditional bouquets of flowers.
The other difference in the Ethiopian calendar is they follow a 13 month calendar rather than our 12, meaning they celebrated their millennium in 2007.
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