Melkam Addis Amet 2014 | Happy Ethiopian New Year!

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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.

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Ethiopian Christmas Jan 7, 2014 | Melkam Gena!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 20:00 p.m. DST, 04 January 2014

Christianity in PalestineADDIS ABBA, Ethiopia - Towards the end of each year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians begin to prepare for their holiday seasons.

During the last week of November until the beginning of the New Year on the Gregorian calendar, Christian families across the world prepare for cultural, regional, and national holidays that honor the best ideals of who we seek to be as humans.

In America, the end of the year is consumed with activities focused on preparing for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and finally New Year’s Eve, which concludes the annual calendar of major festivals.

Throughout the calendar year, running sometimes in synch, and at other times not close, are the major Muslim and Jewish holidays which are celebrated in accordance with the lunar calendar.

The Ethiopian calendar, also called the Ge'ez calendar, is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical calendar for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Orthodox Tewahedo churches, Eastern Catholic Church and Lutheran Orthodox Church.

It is a sidereal calendar based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar. A seven- to eight-year gap is created by the difference between the calendars results in an alternate calculation of the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. (Source: Wikipedia)

Thus, this year, the Ethiopian Christmas will be celebrated on January 7, 2014 on the Gregorian calendar. The Ethiopian holiday is not known as Christmas, but Lidet. Other names include Gena and Qiddus Bale Wold. As part of the tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus, Ethiopian tradition holds that one of the Wise Men who visited Jesus came from Ethiopia.

Christmas Eve features prominently in Ethiopian celebration, just as it does with all followers of Jesus. One difference is that Ethiopians fast on the day before Christmas, and then at dawn on the morning of Gena, the Ethiopian name for the holiday; people arise and dress in white.

Women wear dresses called Habesha Gemis, while the men complete their attire with a type of shawl called Netela, worn by both men and women. Then the entire family attends the early morning mass that starts at 4.00 a.m and officially commences the days events.

Following the mass, families go home to celebrate the holiday and participate in traditional festivities to break the fast. Similar to the American holiday, the Ethiopian Christmas is filled with happiness, the presence of family, food, and songs. But most of all, it is a time to reflect and thank God for all that He has done for us and will through His beneficent kindness, continue to do for us throughout the coming year.

Melkam Gena!

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Happy Ethiopian New Year 2012

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:48 AM EDT, 7 September 2012

Happy Ethiopian New Year, Photo by Ethiopia ForumsADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – As we near the end of the religious year for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Jews, both communities are welcoming the New Year on September 11th and September 16th respectively.

As we have every year, we once again honor our readers of both faiths on this important day that marks the conclusion of their annual calendars.

The Ethiopian New Year, which in Amharic is called Enkutatash, is celebrated concurrently with the Feast of St. John the Baptist. 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.

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;’ 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.

Enkutatash is celebrated over a period of three days in Ethiopian and is characterized by spectacular religious processionals with individuals dressed in pristine clothing accompanied by colorful umbrellas. The main religious celebration occurs in both Addis Ababa and at Entoto Mountain. This is a region of the country that is resplendent with yellow flowers which has come to symbolize the holiday.

Congregants pray at the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the city of Gaynt, while others convene at the Raguel Church in Addis Ababa. But for those in the Diaspora the Ethiopian New Year is just as vital, vibrant, and festive, and thus we would like to wish all of our friends and family Melkam Addis Amet!

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Happy Ethiopian New Year | Melkam Addis Amet

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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.

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