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HAPPY NEW YEAR! From our Family to yours! Ethiopia & Eritrea rings in their New Year on the 11th of September (or, during a leap year,12th of September) according to the Gregorian Calendar and not the1st of January, as the rest of the world.

The New Year Enkutatash (Amharic: እንቁጣጣሽ) means the “Gift of Jewels”.  It is the first day of the new year in Ethiopia, It occurs on September 11th ( Meskerem1).  

This holiday is based on the Ethiopian calendar (or also known as the Gregorian Calendar) which was fixed to the Julian calendar in 25 BC by Emperor Augustus of Rome with a start date of 29 August J.C., thus establishing the New Year on this day. 

The date marks the approximate end of the "rainy season". And legend has It associated traditionally with the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in ca. 980 BC.

The number of daylight hours and nighttime hours happen to be exactly equal in every part of the globe once every September, which is one of the reasons Ethiopians celebrate New Year during this month. During this time of the year, the Sun and the Moon that are used to count time each have 12 hours before setting. The second reason is derived from the Bible, which says that the creation of the Heavens and the Earth took place in September.

It is one of the BEST times of the year to be in Ethiopia. Large celebrations are held around the country, notably at the Church of Entoto Mountain and many Churches around the country.

Photo Credit: The Tower
Enkutatash (New Year) Celebration at an Orthodox Church

After attending church in the morning, families and friends gather to share a traditional meal of injera (flat bread) and wot (stew). Serving the traditional delicacy of our country like Doro Wot (Chicken Stew), Kitffo (Beef Tartare), Beg Wot (Lamb Stew), Tire Sega (Raw meat) and many many more delicious dishes … and for drink traditionally it's served Tej (Honey Based Drink), Areke or Tella. 

Later in the day, young girls donning their new clothes, gather daisies and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs (Abeba Ayehosh). According to the Ethiopian Tourism Commission, "Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday. Modern Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated – in lieu of the traditional bouquet of flowers."

Ethiopian Girls Celebrating Enkutatash

Growing up as a child I remember looking forward to the New Years Eve where family and neighbors all gather on our front yard to lit Chibo (Bonfire) on the ground and every one is asked to cross the fire three times forward and three times backward, wishing for blessed and prosperous year. 

Chibo (Bonfire) Celebration , Friends & Family gather around | Photo Credit Project - e

Whole Diffo Dabo or Himbasha (Round Home made Bread) is passed around starting the eldest parent to the youngest and break the bread on the back of the oldest child. It is such a festive, and happy times in every household.

The next day the celebration continues, While neighbors visiting neighbors, friends or family, the men guests are given (Tej) the Honey wine while the women in the house are doing the final preparations of food for the NEW YEAR PARTY. Once the food is ready, prayers is said and every one enjoys the Kitfo/ Dorowot/Injera and Tej. Towards the end of the day an elaborate Ethiopian coffee ceremony is done, with is pleasant (ETAN) Frankincense aroma, freshly cut green grass called (Ketema) is spread on the floor and many great family tales are shared and memories are Made! And Well wishes are shared for the Upcoming NEW YEAR!!! 

Happy NEW YEAR from our Family to YOURS! 

~ Tsiona Foods!


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