Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year

This article is also available in: Italiano

Enkutatash is certainly one of the New Years most tied to flowers, with ancient roots that would even trace it back to a journey of the Queen of Sheba; it is no coincidence that this festival sees its maximum center in the flowers and in the female figure.

Enkutatash, the gift of the jewel

Within the Ethiopian New Year, the New Year takes place on the first day of Meskerem, a date corresponding to 11 (or 12 of the Gregorian calendar and to 28 August of the Julian calendar, hence this dating takes its cue. According to those who follow him, it would be the date of the return of the Queen of Sheba from her meeting with Solomon, all of which, however, could also be connected to the rainy season, which falls on precisely similar dates.

enkutatash
Queen of Sheba

Particular of this calendar is that of 13 months, one of which consists of 5 or 6 days depending on whether the year is a leap year or not.

The flower festival

The major celebrations are those around the Ragual church on Mount Entoto, near Addis Ababa. Tradition has it that, once they have spent the morning at mass, families get together to share a meal of bread and stew.

enkutatash
The church of San Ragual on Mount Entoto

In the afternoon, however, the young women put on new clothes, collect daisies, the symbol par excellence of the party, and present themselves to friends and relatives with bouquets of flowers, singing melodies for the new year. The festival is not exclusively religious, being seen, on the contrary, as a meeting point for all cultures that follow the Ethiopian and Eritrean calendar.

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