Enqutatash is an Ethiopian (Amharic)word, which represents the Ethiopian New Year. It is called Ri’se Awde Amet (“Head Anniversary”) in Ge’ez, the term preferred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. It occurs on September 11th in the Gregorian Calendar; except for the year preceding a leap year, when it occurs on September 12th. The Ethiopian Calendar Year 2011 Amätä Məhrät (“Year of Mercy”) began on the Gregorian Calendar Year on September 11th, 2018. However, the Ethiopian Years 2008 and 2012 began on the Gregorian Dates of ‘September 12th, 2015 and ‘2019’ respectively.
Enqutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, marks the end of the rainy reason and the beginning of the spring sunshine. Enkutatash, meaning “gift of jewels” in Amharic, originally derives from the story of the Queen of Sheba returning from visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem, according to popular legend. When the Queen arrived, she was greeted by her Ethiopian chiefs with Enqu, the best of all jewels. This joyful holiday has supposedly been celebrated sincethen, marked by dancing and singing across the green countryside, budding with spring flowers.
The Ethiopian calendar is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical year for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eastern Catholic Churches and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is a solar calendar which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar.
Like the Coptic calendar, the Ethiopic calendar has 12 months of 30 days plus 5 or 6 epagomenal days, which comprise a thirteenth month. The Ethiopian months begin on the same days as those of the Coptic calendar, but their names are in Ge’ez. A 6th epagomenal day is added every 4 years, without exception, on August 29 of the Julian calendar, 6 months before the corresponding Julian leap day. Thus the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Mäskäräm, for years between 1900 and 2099 (inclusive), is usually September 11 (Gregorian). However, it falls on September 12 in years before the Gregorian leap year.
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church Enkutatash Celebrations
Although the Ethiopian calendar came from the Coptic Church, the two calendars differ with regard to the saints’ days and the time of observing them. The year of the Ethiopian calendar contains 365 days to which is added every fourth year an extra day. Each year in this four-year period is dedicated to one of the four Evangelists who come in the following order: Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. The year of Luke is the Ethiopian Leap year and is the year which precedes the western leap year.
The chronology of the Ethiopian church follows the Era of Incarnation that is it dates from our Lord’s birth; there is a difference of 7 or 8 years between the western and Ethiopian systems. Because the Ethiopian church holds that our Lord was born 5500 years after the creation of the world this gives the 7 or 8 years difference between the Gregorian and Ethiopian Chronologies. The church also uses other systems of chronology. There is the Era of the world which dates from 5493 B.C, which also differs from the western chronology by 7 or 8 years. Then there is a system of chronology called “the years of Mercy or Grace,” a system which follows the great lunar cycle.
The largest religious celebration is in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the city of Gaynt in the Gondar Region. For 3 days the sounds of psalms, sermons, prayers, and hymns can be heard as colorful processions welcome the New Year. There is a large celebration nearer to Addis Abeba, the capital, at the Ragual Church on Entoto mountain. In addition to this since the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the owner of this Calendar the saint Yared’s spiritual songs will be sing in all churches in Ethiopia saying “awude amet Lebareko Ne’e Maryam lemehret we sahel”. Enkutatash also known as Kidus Yohannes(Saint John).
Ashenda or Shadey (Tigrinya: ኣሸንዳ, Agaw language: ሻደይ) is a festival celebrated in August in the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, and in neighboring Eritrea. Ashenda marks the end of a two-week-long fast known as Filseta (Ge’ez: ጾመ-ፍልሰታ) when adherents of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church/ Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church gather to honor the Virgin Mary.
Enqutatash is a very festive occasion. 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 songs. 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 young girls donning new clothes, gather daisies and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs. They often receive a small gift in return, usually either money or bread. Young boys paint pictures of saints to give away and also receive a small token in return. The day of festivities winds down with families visiting friends and sharing a drink of Tella(one of the cheapest best Alchole in the world), while children go out and spend their newly received riches. 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.
In the Ethiopian Calander, each year is divided into 12 months of 30 days. The extra 5 days are placed at the end of the year and known as Pagumen. In the leap year, the extra day is added to these five days making the Pagumen of this year a period of 6 days.
Names of months are as follows:
(1) Meskerem(መስከረም) = (September-October)
(2) Teqemt(ጥቅምት) = (October- November)
(3) Hedar(ኅዳር) = (November- December)
(4) Tahsas(ታኅሣሥ) = (December- January)
(5) Ter(ጥር) = (January- February)
(6) Yekatit(የካቲት) = (February- March)
(7) Megabit(መጋቢት) = (March- April)
(8) Miyazia(ሚያዝያ) = (April – May)
(9) Ginbot(ግንቦት) = (May – June)
(10) Sene(ሰኔ) = (June – July)
(11) Hamle(ሐምሌ) = (July-August)
(12) Nehase(ነሐሴ) = (August- September)
As in Julian and Gregorian calendars, days are grouped into weeks and are named in the order.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
Sunday Ehud(እሁድ), Senbete Krestian
Wednesday, Rabue እሮብ
Friday Sadus, Arbe( ዓርብ)
Saturday, Qadamit( ቅዳሜ) Sanbat
Happy New year !!!