As per the Ethiopian calendar, New year is celebrated on the eleventh of September and not on the first of January, as the rest of the world. Based on the Egyptian and Julian calendars, Ethiopian calendar starts on September, called Meskerem in the local language of Ethiopia, to be the first month of the year. Also, each year consist of 12 months of 30 days, plus a thirteenth month (Pagume) with five or six timekeeping days. In other words, Ethiopians are seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar which is followed all around the world.
The Ethiopian New Year or Enkutatash which literally means gift of jewels derives its name from the legend of Queen Sheba. It commemorates the return of the Queen from Jerusalem after meeting King Solomon and the local rulers gifted her with jewels as a mark of respect.
The day of Enkutatash is generally marked by pleasant weather with blooming bright-yellow flowers called adey abeba. Little girls go around in groups carrying bunches of adey abeba beating drums, clapping, and singing traditional songs. One of the girls leads the song and the rest responds to the lyric, with the chorus “lemlem’’. People gifts them with a piece of bread prepared for the holidays, or with money. The girls wish them Enkuan Aderesachihu! (Happy New Year)! And blesses the gift giver more riches, more children for the coming year and even 30 calves. Young boys go from house to house handing out their works of art on the morning of the holiday to their family members, neighbours and close friends.
Ethiopians celebrate new year with family eating doro wot (chicken stew), which takes at least half a day to prepare and injera (a flatbread) on a large platter. local alcoholic drinks such as tej (honey wine) and tela are also served with the meal.
Coffee ceremony also forms an integral part of the celebration. It is an important social occasion with friends and relatives uniting to gossip and discuss community matters while enjoying some fresh coffee. Invitation to a coffee ceremony from an Ethiopian family is considered with high regard.