Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, marks the end of the rainy reason and the beginning of the spring sunshine. While Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, the holiday falls on September 11th according to the Western or Gregorian calendar, except for leap years, when it occurs on September 12th.
How we celebrate Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year)
Enkutatash, meaning “gift of jewels” in Amharic, originally derives from the story of the Queen of Sheba returning from visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem, according to popular legend. When the Queen arrived, she was greeted by her Ethiopian chiefs with enku, jewels. This joyful holiday has supposedly been celebrated since this time, marked by dancing and singing across the green countryside, budding with spring flowers.
Enkutatash is a very festive occasion.
After attending church in the morning, families gather to share a traditional meal of injera (flatbread) and wat (stew). Later in the day, young girls donning new clothes, gather daisies, and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs. They often receive a small gift in return, usually either money or bread. Young boys paint pictures of saints to give away and also receive a small token in return. The day of festivities winds down with families visiting friends and sharing a drink of tella, Ethiopian beer, while children go out and spend their newly received riches.
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