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EnkutatashSeptember 11

EnkutatashSeptember 11

Enkutatash, which means “Gift of Jewels” is the celebration of the Ethiopian New Year.  Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of 13 months – 12 months each with 30 days and a final month with 5 days (6 days in leap year).  The Julian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian calendar, which is used throughout most of the Western world.  In 2007 (Gregorian calendar), Ethiopia rang in the year 2000 and the new Ethiopian Millennium with colorful celebrations throughout the country.

Enkutatashhappens to come near the end of a long rainy season, coloring the green landscapes with bright yellow flowers (called the Meskel Flower, or adeiabeba in Amharic) and giving great reason to celebrate the new harvest.  Torches of dry wood are burned in front of houses on New Year’s Eve.  On New Year’s Day, girls dressed in new clothes go door-to-door singing songs.  Families and friends celebrate together with large feasts.

This day also happens to coincide with the saint’s day of St. John the Baptist.  This religious ceremony can be seen at the KosteteYohannes church in the village of Gaynt, where celebrations are carried out for three days.  Just outside of Addis Ababa, on the Entoto Mountain, Raguel Church has the largest religious celebration in the country.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Ethiopians check lambs during the preparations of new year at a local livestock market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 10, 2014. Ethiopia will mark the arrival of 2007 on September 11 according to a unique calendar. The streets are now packed with people shopping for live lambs, roosters, among other things. (Photo by Kinfemichael Habetemariam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – SEPTEMBER 10: Ethiopians check lambs during the preparations of new year at a local livestock market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 10, 2014. Ethiopia will mark the arrival of 2007 on September 11 according to a unique calendar. The streets are now packed with people shopping for live lambs, roosters, among other things. (Photo by Kinfemichael Habetemariam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - SEPTEMBER 10:  An Ethiopian with his relatives carries a lamb during the preparations of new year at a local livestock market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 10, 2014. Ethiopia will mark the arrival of 2007 on September 11 according to a unique calendar. The streets are now packed with people shopping for live lambs, roosters, among other things. (Photo by Kinfemichael Habetemariam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – SEPTEMBER 10: An Ethiopian with his relatives carries a lamb during the preparations of new year at a local livestock market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 10, 2014. Ethiopia will mark the arrival of 2007 on September 11 according to a unique calendar. The streets are now packed with people shopping for live lambs, roosters, among other things. (Photo by Kinfemichael Habetemariam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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