Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash)


Ethiopia is unique from the rest of the world by its own Julian calendar. Which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a thirteenth month of five days/six days in a leap year/ and is 7 years and eight months behind the western calendar. Our new year falls on meskeram 1 or Sep 11. This is the beginning of the harvest and dry season.

Enkutatash means the “gift of jewels”. When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since this early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside.
But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday. Today’s Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated – in lieu or the traditional bouquet of flowers.