The Ethiopian New Year
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 a 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.
Enkutatash is the first day of the New Year in Ethiopia
Enkutatash means the “gift of jewels”. When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since this early time and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard in every village throughout the green countryside.
But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday. Today’s Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal New Year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated – in lieu of the traditional bouquet of flowers.