Ethiopian New Year - the Time of Lavishness, Forgiveness, Hopefulness and Family Reunion

Unlike most countries, Ethiopia celebrates its own New Year called Enkutatash, on September 11 based on the Julian calendar. The Ethiopian year consists 12 months 30 days, plus a 13th month called Pagumen. Pagumen could have five or six timekeeping days. Based on its calendar, Ethiopia is seven or eight years behind the western world.

Ethiopians welcome their New Year and St. John (Kidus Yohanes) festivity in a highly anticipated manner. After the rainy, foggy and muddy months of June, July and August, September draws nigh with new hope and ambitions. It creates huge excitement and mental satisfaction accentuated by blooming flowers, flowing rivers, shinning sunny days and pleasant weather. During this special time, Ethiopians who live in different parts of the world flock to their country of origin to celebrate New Year and Kidus Yohanes. Quarreled ones forgive each other, share greetings and gifts to their loved ones.

The celebration of the New Year usually begins from its eve. Families renovate and decorate their homes to receive the New Year with new aspirations. Decorated mats are rolled out over the floor of the living room. Women prepare special dishes and beverages for the holiday. At night, families gather in their backyard to light torches, which symbolizes the ensuing of the season, new hope and new aspirations and the end of rainy season. Boys and girls sing, dance, dine and drink around the bonfire to their hearts content. Families and friends get engulfed by an overwhelming Joy and abundance. After attending church congregation in the morning, families slaughter oxen, sheep and goats. In this regard, doro wot is (Chicken stew) is among the popular traditional dishes in Ethiopia. Bread (Ambasha) and Enjera are favorite foods during this special day. Families, friends and neighbors dine together to express their love and affection. They watch television programs drinking coffee and traditional beverages such as Tela and Tej.

Solomon Teklu a resident of Addis Ababa describes the Ethiopian New Year as "more than a daily festivity". Beyond its joyful event, boys propose their would-be wives; people design their goals and promise to rectify mistakes.

"People usually plan their annual activities on the eve of the New Year. They decide to create relationship and to marry. They promise to continue their education, business and to abandon their bad habits before the New Year approaches. They also forgive those who inflicted damage on them and vow to start a new life. They share greetings and postcards to each other and sing and dance together. General, they create special and unforgettable atmosphere," he points out.

As to him, families offer gifts to their children and the gifts and other accomplishments create memorable nostalgia.

"Most parents buy clothes for their children during the New Year period. Expecting gifts from parents and relatives is common among kids. The gift motivates them to be active in their schooling. Presenting gift to children in their formative years makes them pine for their families, to experience homesick and to feel nostalgia about their country when they grow up. That is why they, in droves, come back from abroad to their parents every year to attend the celebration. However, this year, COVID-19 has restricted families to hold their common gatherings. Our families who live abroad have also told us that they are unable to come due to the virus," Solomon notes.

COVID-19 has also hampered the flow of tourists significantly since the whole world is under the tight grip of the pandemic. However, as the family bond of Ethiopians is highly strong, the social interaction and togetherness are still on their place

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