Ethiopian New Year

Happy New Year!

September 10, 2021

The precious value of time is the destination of human’s life. It is the gift of God for us to embrace and cherish; as the days come, and the flow of time cycle brings months and we pass on to years.

In Orthodox Church history, the years are entitled by the four evangelists, ‘Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke and Saint John.’ Accord the cycle of years, what we welcome is on September 11th is the “Year of Mark.”

On this New Year we embrace Saint John the Baptist, as he is regarded as a symbol of transition from one year to another.  New Year is also an occasion of exchanging gifts and good wishes among Ethiopians being the reason for the day of the Ethiopian New Year to be called ‘Enkutatash’ meaning “gift of jewels” in the Amharic language. Today, the term ‘Enkutatash’ used for exchanging of formal New Year greetings and wishes among Ethiopians. Ethiopian children, clad in brand-new clothes, dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted Enqutatash pictures to each household.

‘Enkutatash’ is not exclusively a religious holiday but is also a celebration of New Year and renewed life. Almost 3,000 years ago, Queen of Sheba of ancient Ethiopia who was returning from a trip to visit King Solomon of Israel in Jerusalem, as mentioned in the Bible in I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9. She had gifted Solomon with 120 talents of gold (4.5 tons) as well as a large amount of unique spices and jewels. When the Queen returned to Ethiopia, her chiefs welcomed her with ‘Enku’ or jewels to replenish her treasury. The feast has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. In the evening every house lights a bonfire and there is much singing.

May God grant us peace, love and harmony in the new year; Amen!