Ethiopian New Year 1st Meskerem (11/12 Sept.) ( Enkutatash )
Ethiopian NewYear(Enkutatash) is the word for the Ethiopian new year in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, while it is called Ri'se Awde Amet (Head Anniversary) in Ge'ez, the term 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. Enkutatash , marks after the end of three months of heavy rain season the sun comes out creating a beautiful clear fresh atmosphere. The Month of 1st Meskerem( 11 or 12 September ) is seen as a month of transition from the old year to the new. For Ethiopians It is a time to express hopes and dreams for the future.
Ethiopia’s calendar follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month, Pagume, of five or six days, depending on whether or not it is a leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar, but is unique to Ethiopia. The way Ethiopians measure time is also different from the West. The clock starts at 6am western time and runs until 6pm. Therefore 8o'clock in western time would be 2o'clock Ethiopian time. Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator the sun rises at around 00. 30 Ethiopian time and sets at around 12.45 in the evening (6.45 western equivalent) all year round. Ethiopia is 3 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). The years run in a four year cycle bearing the names of the Gospels with the year of John or Yohannes being the leap year.
The largest religious celebration is in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in Gaynt in the ancient city of Gondar. For 3 days the sounds of psalms, sermons, prayers and hymns can be heard as colorful processions welcome the New Year. There is also a large celebration nearer to Addis Abeba, the capital, at the Ragual Church on Entoto Mountain
On New Year's Eve, torches of dry leaves and wood bundled in the form of tall and thick sticks are also set on fire in front of houses as the young and old sing. Early in the morning everybody goes to Church wearing traditional Ethiopian clothing. After Church there is a family meal of Injera (flat bread) and Wat (stew). The girls go from house to house singing New Year songs for money and the boys sell pictures that they have drawn. In the evening families go to visit their friends and drink tella the traditional Ethiopian beer and Tej Honey beer. While the elders discuss their hopes for the New Year the children go and spend the money they have earned.
In more recent times it has also become usual for well-to-do city dwellers to send each other New Year greetings cards instead of the more traditional bunches of flowers.