Melkam Addis Amet 2014 | Happy Ethiopian New Year!


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:00 AM EDT, 09 September 2014

Young Ethiopian Girl with Flower, Photo by Tiffany

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The Ethiopian New Year, which in Amharic is called Enkutatash, commences on 11 September 2014.  The name of this festival harkens back to the revered Queen of Sheba, who upon her return from Jerusalem where she visited King Solomon, brought with her a wealth of gold and precious stones.

In addition to these gifts, she received jewels from the Ethiopian priesthood to celebrate her safe return. These jewels are known as ‘enku’ hence the eponymous name of the holiday.

The spring festival has been celebrated since Queen of Sheba's times, as it marks the end of the rainy season and the rebirth of the year.  Like the blowing of the Shofar which is a powerful symbol of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, which translates as the ‘head of the new year’ and begins about two weeks following; bouquets of yellow flowers symbolize Enkutatash as a holiday that marks springtime and renewal.

The rituals of both holidays include prayers and sermons, but also warm family celebrations replete with food, singing, and joy.

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 and 6 days in 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.

Though Enkutatash originated as a primarily religious festival celebrated over a period of three days, and was predominantly characterized by spectacular religious processionals; it is no longer an exclusively religious holiday. Today’s Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban professionals, though some in the Diaspora still exchange the traditional bouquet of flowers.

For those travelers able to visit the country during this festival, it is an experience not soon forgotten, especially if invited to celebrate in the Entoto Mountains, which is the region of the country that is resplendent with yellow flowers which have come to symbolize this holiday.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

Ethiopian Christmas 2012 | Melkam Gena!


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:22 AM EDT, 6 January 2012

ETHIOPIA - At the end of 2011, Jews, Muslims and Christians celebrated major holidays commemorating the end of their religious calendars. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians in the Diaspora celebrate Christmas on the traditional 25th of December. However, all Ethiopians celebrate the holiday on the 7thof January which is the 29th of December on the Ethiopian calendar.

Also known as Liddet, Gena and Qiddus Bale Wold, the holiday actually begins at sundown of the 6th of January with a night long church service. Like Muslims and Jews, the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgical day always begins at sunrise and ends at sunset of the evening before the calendar date. Lidet is significant from a religious perspective, but does not have the commercial overtones that the festival has in Western countries.

Christmas also signals the end of 40 days of fasting which began on Advent (Sibket, in Amharic) and ends on Christmas Eve with the Feast of Gena. Like Muslims who fast for one month without eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown, Ethiopians also fast, but are allowed to consume vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit, varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread. Meat and diary products are only eaten on feasting days i.e. Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and at all other times. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Jews and Muslims do not eat pork as it forbidden by their religious beliefs.

The morning of Christmas begins with a spectacular procession. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast by eating chicken, lamb or beef accompanied by Injera and served in beautifully decorated baskets. It is a very festive occasion filled with joy, family, great food and song.  Watch the video below and enjoy!


Happy Ethiopian New Year | Melkam Addis Amet


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:33 PM EDT, 10 September 2011

Enkutatash - 11.9.11This is an inspirational time of the year because of the proximity of the major holidays of the Abrahamic religions.

We have just concluded Ramadan and now we are celebrating the Ethiopian New Year.  Enkutatash is the  word for new year in Amharic the official language of Ethiopia.

The new year is also known as Ri'se Awde Amet (Head Anniversary) in Ge'ez, an appellation preferred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

It occurs on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar, except for leap years, when it occurs on September 12. The Ethiopian calendar year 1998 'Amätä Məhrät ("Year of Mercy") began on September 11, 2005. However, the Ethiopian years 1996 and 1992 AM began on September 12, 2003 and 1999, respectively.

This date correspondence applies from the Gregorian years 1900 to 2099. Generally, because every fourth Ethiopian year is a leap year without exception, while Gregorian years divisible by 100 are not leap years, a set of corresponding dates will thus apply only for one century. However, because the Gregorian year 2000 is a leap year, then in this case the correspondences continue for two centuries. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Ethiopian New Year will be followed by the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  We honor all of our readers by acknowledging and celebrating their holy holidays and we thank them and wish them happiness and joy on during these perennial festivals.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Intro to the Ethiopic Calendar

Intro to the Ethiopic Calendar

Teshome Shewaye is an Ethiopian citizen who provided the NCR with a more detailed account of the Ethiopic Calendar. The Ethiopic Calendar differs from the Hebrew, Islamic and Gregorian Calendars and is followed by more than 80 million people worldwide. “The day starts with sunrise” is the conceptual basis for the clock in Ethiopia and many of its neighbors. Being near the equator this translates to roughly 6 AM each day with an even 12 hours of light and darkness with only a little seasonal drifting. A twelve hour clock is used that begins at “12 AM” with sunrise (aka 6 AM in the West), reaches “noon” at “6 AM”, followed by “12 PM” 6 hours later and “6 PM” at “midnight”. Think of it as a clock or watch with the “6” at the top and the “12” at the bottom.

Read More

Happy Ethiopian New Year | Melkam Addis Amet!

Happy Ethiopian New Year | Melkam Addis Amet!

Enkutatash is the Ethiopian New Year which will be celebrated by the Gregorian calendar on 11 September 2010. The current year according to the Ethiopian calendar is 2002, which began on September 11, 2009 of the Gregorian calendar. The year 2003 will begin on September 11, 2010. Melkam Addis Amet! Happy New Year to all!

Read More

Liddet | Ethiopian Christmas

Liddet | Ethiopian Christmas

January 7, 2010 is the day that Ethiopians will celebrate Christmas. Although there is no direct correlation between a Jewish festival and this date when Ethiopian Christians among others (i.e. Russian, Serb, and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians) celebrate Christmas, I did find a unique minor holiday that reinforced the shared history, Gizret.

Read More