Ethiopian New Year Celebrations - Symbols of National Optimism

Between August 15 up to the end of September some 6 public holidays will be marked in Ethiopia. They include Ed Al Adha , Buhe, Ashenda, Ethiopian New Year, Meskel and Erecha.

The festive season depicts the end of the rainy season and the onset of spring in Ethiopia. Enkutatash is the first day of the New Year in Ethiopia. It occurs on Meskerem 1 on the Ethiopian calendar, which is 11 September or, during a leap year, 12 September according to the Gregorian calendar.

This holiday is based on the Ethiopian 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. It has also been associated traditionally with the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in ca. 980 BC. Upon her return to Ethiopia, a legend goes that she was provided with jewels and diamonds as part of a welcoming ceremony for her, hence, enkutatash (jewels for your expenses ) the word was a derivative of the gifts issued to the queen.

During the rainy season, in most part of the country citizens find it hard to meet in person because of the torrential rains and possible floods and landslide but when spring comes in September, the runoff from the rivers and heavy rains subside and the fields and hills in the whole country are covered with Adey Abeba.

Much of the Ethiopian plateau and many river valleys, hills, and mountain slopes in Ethiopia are covered by yellow-flowered Bidens species, including B. macroptera or Adey Abeba as the wild flower is locally known in Ethiopia. The yellow flowers cover th field from September to November. In Ethiopia, yellow is a symbol of peace, hope, and love. Yellow Bidens are often displayed to signify the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry and sunny season and, more specifically, the start of the Ethiopian New Year. Bidens macroptera grows only in Ethiopia only to disappear again after November to flower again at the same season next year. The flower symbolizes peace, hope and love perfectly matching the current called made by Prime Minister Dr. Abey for the prevalence of unity, peace, love and forgiveness.

Over the last three years, the country suffered from manmade and natural calamities, the country was also plagued with a number of public uprisings triggered by lack of good governance and issues related to ethnic identity and demands for infrastructural facilities for local development programs. The government was forced to declare two sets of emergency proclamations as an effort to restore peace and stability in the country.

The nation's tourism programs, FDI initiatives and efforts to modernize the agricultural sector faced sets backs partly due to lack of peace and stability in various parts of the country. The export sector in particular was hit by low prices for some primary commodities like hides and skins while the volume of exports from coffee stagnated to similar lower levels year in and out. Corruption, illicit trade and contraband severely affected the nation's economy leading to acute lack of foreign currency to complete a myriad of mega projects within the specified period of time.

Religious fanaticism, narrow nationalistic feelings and actions, deliberate tampering with the rule of law, and prolonged bureaucratic red tape in the public service almost chocked the entire country with an imminent danger of total anarchy and terroristic trends.

The resignation of the former Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalege forced by the quest for deeper reforms among the public prompted the ruling party, EPRDF to introduce more reforms that touched upon the various facets of public life.

However, the massive events that took place in the country over the last three months conspicuously stand out. With the appointment of Prime Minister Dr. Abey Ahmed, a huge paradigm shift in the socio-political and economic stance of the country was ushered.

In his inaugural speech at the HPR, Prime Minister Abiy stressed on the importance of unity, love and forgiveness among citizens. He stressed on the importance of making peace with Eretria and engaging in constructive dialogues with opposition parties as a strategy towards widening the political space in the country.

In a couple of weeks after his inauguration, the prime minister paid a working visit to Somali Region, different zones of Oromia, Bahir Dar in Amhara , Mekele in Tigray, Hawassa,Wolkite in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State.

The prime minister paid a special attention to strengthening the diplomatic, social and economic relations between the neighboring countries including Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan and Egypt. He diplomatically facilitated the release of thousands of prisoners detained in the prisons of the neighboring countries as a means of ascertaining the human rights of citizens and promoting deeper relations with the neighboring countries based on mutual benefit and cooperation. Ethiopia entered into a number of agreements that would help to promote mutual economic benefits and people to people relations.

Despite all these efforts, sporadic violent protests flared up in the country threatening the social fabric and values cherished by the peoples of Ethiopia. Recently, self styled dictatorship, regional ethnic and religious fanaticism, nepotism and egocentrism are out to challenge the rule of law and democracy. Egregious violations of human rights resulted in massacre of hundreds of lives including priests, children and their mothers have been lost in the most heinous and barbaric mode of fascistic massacres untold in the history of this country.

Vandalism is replacing the rule of law threatening the survival of the country as a peaceful nation. Those who are out in open opposition to the reforms in this country have left no stone upturned to reverse the reforms that are meant to promote democratic development in Ethiopia.

Despite such a despicable situation in some parts of the country, Ethiopia's leadership are spearheading reforms that are deep seated and critical for the future development of the country. The events that took place in some regions of the country, particularly in Ethiopia Somali region can in no way represent the entire population in the region and the peoples from different parts of the country will continue to coexist in a peaceful manner.

Already a meaningful peace is retaking roots in previously chaotic regions of the country including Oromia, Amhara and the SSNPR. The IDPs Gedeo area are resettling and peace is prevailing in Ethio-Somali region by days.

The New Year that is just at the corner will bring about lasting peace and development for the nation as the giant infrastructural and other development programs like the construction of GERD is moving on with expected momentum.

The dividends of peace building, nationwide optimism for sustained stability and resistance against hooliganism are already apparent as the youth in the country are realizing the motives of those who wish to drive them into a hellish fire and cow them into anarchism is being evident. Peace and development, love and unity will certainly win in the New Year as the nation celebrates the New Year with the theme "Let us begin in unison".

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