Friday, September 9, 2011

Bringing in the New Year, 2004!

Happy New Year Ethiopia (Enkutatash)!

On Monday September 12th this year, Ethiopia will be bringing in the year 2004! The US Embassy and other offices will be closed in celebration. The majority of our in-country staff will also have enjoy the day off to celebrate.

Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar, in which the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days (6 days in the leap year). The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar from January to September and 7 years behind between September 11 and January 8.

Enkutatash means the “gift of jewels”. When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive trip to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since this early time, 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 of traditional bouquets of flowers. It is a time to express hopes and dreams for the future. Meskerem (September) is seen as a month of transition from the old year to the new.

We’d like to hear from you on how you plan to celebrate the New Year with your Ethiopian child/ren. Share with us in the comments!