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Connie Norman

Melkam Addis Amet! Happy New Year! Enkutatash2004

Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day (or Enkutatash) is celebrated in September towards the end of the big rains.  New Year’s Day in Ethiopia marks a new season and a new beginning.  Normally celebrated on September 11, this year is leap year so the day fell on September 12.  After my last trip to Ethiopia I had the pleasure of learning much more about the culture.  Ethiopia still follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of five or six days.  This makes the Ethiopian calendar 7 years behind ours, hence it’s 2004.  We decided to celebrate Enkutatash, but for us the question was how do we commemorate the day?  Obviously we decided to go and eat Ethiopian food!  We tried a new restaurant, The Nile, in Aurora, which is a suburb of Denver.  I’ve been told that Aurora has a huge Ethiopian population.   Our dinner was delicious!  We feasted on a variety plate and a lot of kitfo.   It’s a traditional dish that consists of raw or slightly cooked marinated beef. 

As a part of our Ethiopian New Year celebration we decided to ride our bikes in the Tour De Fat.  The Tour De Fat is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing Company and the beverage Fat Tire!  The ride brings out thousands of costumed bikers through the streets promoting all things bicycle!  Van has mastered riding without training wheels but not watching where he rides, hence we put him on a tag-a-long bike, so we didn’t have to worry about all the bike wrecks he would cause.  We may not have brought in the new year like true Ethiopians, but we definitely marked the day!!  Here we are in our traditional Ethiopian clothing. 

Presently in Addis Ababa, New Year’s Eve is spent feasting and partying. On New Year’s Day, the house is decorated with pretty little yellow Meskal daisies. Children make gifts of colorful paintings or spring flowers to give to their family and friends. Girls, dressed in their new Ethiopian dresses and armed with a kabero (small drum), go from house to house singing a special Enkutatash song, in return for some money. The main religious celebration takes place in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the town of Gaynt, in the Gondar region. Three days of prayers, psalms, hymns and sermons, and huge colourful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration.

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