Enkutatash, The Ethiopian New Year’s Timeless Tale

Exploring The Rich Traditions Of Ethiopian New Year

On the 11th of September, Ethiopians worldwide came together to celebrate the dawning of a new year, a celebration known as Enkutatash. While much of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, Ethiopia has preserved its own distinctive calendar system, which gives rise to one of the most captivating New Year festivities on the planet.

The origins of Enkutatash are intertwined with history and legend, forming a narrative that has captivated generations. According to Ethiopian folklore, the holiday pays homage to the return of the Queen of Sheba from her fabled journey to Jerusalem, where she visited King Solomon. Upon her arrival back in Ethiopia, her chiefs welcomed her by bestowing upon her fresh-cut, golden flowers. These blossoms symbolize the conclusion of the rainy season and the onset of a new year. This legendary tale weaves culture, spirituality, and nature into a celebration that is deeply rooted in the Ethiopian psyche.

However, what sets Ethiopian New Year apart from the global January 1st celebration is the country’s calendar system. Ethiopia uses the Ge’ez calendar, also known as the Ethiopian calendar. It is derived from the ancient Coptic Christian calendar, with ties to ancient Egypt. This unique calendar does not sync with the Gregorian calendar, leading to a discrepancy of approximately seven to eight years. This variance in dating systems traces its origin to the differing calculations of the date of the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus Christ.

While the rest of the world counts down to the New Year with fireworks and festivities on January 1st, Ethiopians patiently wait until Meskerem 1st on the Ge’ez calendar, which corresponds to September 11th (or 12th in a Gregorian leap year). The delay in the Ethiopian New Year is not just a matter of date; it Is a testament to the nation’s rich history and unwavering commitment to preserving its traditions.

As Ethiopians celebrate the New Year of 2016, we extend our heartfelt wishes for happiness, prosperity, and blessings to all Ethiopians, wherever they may be. Melkam Addis Amet! Happy New Year 2016! May the golden blossoms of Enkutatash continue to bloom in your hearts throughout the year ahead.


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