Explore The Ethiopian New year - Enkutatash

By Jenna Jolie

You must familiarize yourself with Ethiopia's calendar if you intend to travel there to volunteer, see its wildlife parks, or see its historical sites.

In accordance with the Ethiopian calendar, Enkutatash, or Ethiopia New Year, is often observed on September 11th or 12th, depending on the year.

What is the Ethiopian New Year?

The direct translation of the phrase "Enkutatash" is "present of diamonds." It makes reference to the gems that King Solomon received from the Queen of Sheba during her visit. Her chiefs gave her gems to fill her coffers when she got back to her homeland.

Ethiopia and Eritrea, which was an integral part of Ethiopia until 1991 de facto and 1993 de jure, celebrate Enkutatash as an official holiday. It is observed in both a secular and religious manner. People go to church in the morning and then come home to eat breakfast with their families.

Children celebrate Enkutatash by gathering flowers and distributing them to their family, friends, and neighbors in return for modest presents. Enkutatash commemorates the end of the rainy season and the start of spring.

The origin of Ethiopian New Year

The origin of Ethiopian New Year

When is the Ethiopian new year?

Ethiopians and Eritreans celebrate the start of the new year on the first day of the month of Mäskäräm. In the Amharic language that is spoken in Ethiopia, the new year is referred to as Enkutatash. According to the Gregorian calendar, it occurs on September 11 (or September 12 in leap years).

The Coptic calendar is the foundation for the Ethiopian calendar. It has a total of twelve months plus five extra days. Similar to the Julian calendar, there is an extra epagomenal day every four years. Leap years are those years. In years like these, Enkutatash is observed one day later than it would be under the Gregorian calendar.

How to celebrate the Ethiopian new year?

Families join together to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year by distributing gifts to the kids and eating a traditional Enkutatash feast.

The festivities begin the night before Enkutatash when a lot of families go to church and say prayers to bring in the new year. Especially among young females, singing and dancing are typical methods to celebrate.

Greeting cards have progressively taken the place of more conventional presents like bouquets of just harvested yellow flowers, which signify the beginning of spring, and paintings of saints.

How people celebrate the Ethiopian New Year

How people celebrate the Ethiopian New Year

Traditional Enkutatash Food served during Ethiopian New Year's

Food plays a significant role in the celebration of Enkutatash, as it does in many other ethnic festivities across the world.

On New Year's Eve, families often buy an animal, which is then butchered the following morning. Then, a number of common foods are cooked and presented for lunch.

Listed below are a few common Ethiopian meals served at Ethiopian New Year - Enkutatash:

  • Usually eaten with rice or injera, the fiery chicken stew known as Doro Wot.

  • Dulet is a dish made out of lamb tripe, liver, and minced beef that is occasionally served uncooked.

  • Ga'at, also known as Genfo, is a stiff porridge that resembles a doughnut and is frequently composed of either barley flour or cornmeal. It is typically served with a dipping sauce in the center.

  • Coffee, a traditional beverage in Ethiopia, is also offered together with Araki, a potent homemade liqueur often produced from grapes and anise.

12 Traditions to Be Aware Of During Ethiopian New Year's "Enkutatash"

1. Purchasing a sheep and a chicken 

On New Year's Eve, a chicken and a sheep are purchased since it is customary to butcher the animals early on January 1st.

2. Baked corn

Corn on the cob is barbecued over the fire using a small burner that is carried into the room. It's all delicious and smokey! After that, it is distributed to everyone in a corn leaf wrapped around it for snacking.

3. Decorating the floor with fresh-smelling grass

The garden's long grass is chopped and brought into the residence. The mixture is then spread out over the floor of the house, and one of the herbs is put into it to give it a pleasant aroma.

4. A new year's eve dinner

A few pots of other meals are offered besides the injeer. Some recipes are vegetarian, while others contain meat. Since the New Year's Lunch is exceptional, this meal is essentially simply a regular lunch.

Every family will gather together and eat the New Year’s eve dinner

5. Cupping ceremony

The grass on the living room floor is covered with a handmade mat that has been brought in. The coffee cups are then piled high on a little low table that is then brought in.

The elders are allowed to smell the coffee beans to make sure they have been properly roasted by the coffee lady. After that, the clay jug is returned to the stove, where the beans are crushed and combined with water. Coffee is cooked before being poured into little glasses with an aromatic herb. 

After that, everyone above the age of 18 is offered coffee, starting with the elderly. You can't buy coffee if you're under 18.

6. Laughing, dancing, and burning "chibo"

Starting in the house's hallway, long bundles of tied-up twigs and sticks are inserted into the flames of the little stove. As soon as the bundles begin to burn, they are swiftly moved outside and onto the front yard. They form a little hearth there, and the dancing and singing start. Around the fire, the family dances and sings while wishing one another a good and prosperous New Year. At the conclusion, after the fire has somewhat died down, everyone leaps three times over the pit to bid farewell to the previous year and welcome the new one.

7. Araki drink

Anyone who wants to consume it is given homemade booze in shot glasses. It warms your tummy and has a powerful scent. As a result of all the heavy stuff we ate for dinner earlier, it is intended to aid with indigestion. And it actually helps you fall asleep!

8. Killing the chicken and the sheep

The guy of the home is often in charge of killing the animals. Early in the morning, often between 6 and 7 am. The animals are then skinned, and as soon as the ladies awaken, they begin quickly preparing the meat so that everything is prepared for the New Year's meal.

9. Making Doro Wat and Dulet

'Dulet' is made from the tripe, kidney, and liver of the sheep. The pieces of flesh are served uncooked after being finely cut. Women make "doro wat" from the chicken, a fiery red stew that is eaten with cooked eggs.

10. Morning Point

Ga'at, a very smooth porridge shaped into a spherical dome with a hole in the center that holds red and spicy sauce that you dip your porridge in, is available for the hungry while the food is being prepared.

11. New year's lunch

After noon, injeer, dulet, doro wat, and a few additional foods are offered as the meal.

Everyone takes what they want from their plates, and the husband should always share a little of his food with his wife before beginning to eat.

12. Cutting bread and praying

It's time to cut the large circular bread after lunch, when everyone is stuffed and relaxing. After everyone rises and prays, this is done. Everyone receives a piece of bread that has been cut by the eldest guy in the home.

Praying is an indispensable activity in the Ethiopian New Year

Praying is an indispensable activity in the Ethiopian New Year

Travel Tips for Enkutatash

Make sure you are aware of the procedures for entering Ethiopia before traveling there, whether it be to take in the Ethiopian New Year - Enkutatash festivities or Ethiopia's Blue Nile Falls.

Most visitors must get a visa for Ethiopia, which allows them to remain for up to 3 months unless they have a Kenyan passport. The majority of travelers are qualified to apply online for an Ethiopian e-Visa. The application form is simple to fill out and shouldn't take more than 10 minutes when you apply at our website - Ethiopian Immigration Services

Once you've arranged your visa and vacation dates, don't forget to recheck your travel insurance information about any possible Ethiopian vaccines.