The Amharic word Enkutatash means “gift of jewels” in which the Ethiopian New Year’s day eloquently named after besides the two Amharic words–Addis Amet which literally means New Year. Welcoming the New Year right after the rainy season ends when most parts of Ethiopia simply and naturally coated by the beautiful yellow daisies which locally known as Adey Ababa make it seems like receiving jewels from Mother Nature’s priceless gifts.
Interestingly here in Ethiopia year 2007 is just about to arrive and to be welcomed distinctively once again by Ethiopians through Enkutatash celebration on September 11, 2014. Since Ethiopia still follows the Julian calendar which makes it 7 years behind the western or Gregorian calendar … a trip to Africa particularly to ETHIOPIA can also mean being few years younger – gift of jewels indeed!
Like many other major Ethiopian Holidays, Enkutatash is also celebrated in great cheer by Ethiopians. Besides the exotic traditional holiday cuisines and home brewed beer or mead … there are many other details that makes Ethiopian holidays complete. Thus, in this particular post I would love to give homage the top three eloquent and distinctive details that only belong to Enkutatash celebration- in which many Ethiopians have special and inner connection with.
Adey Ababa (Yellow daisy) is simply indicates Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash) here in Ethiopia. Besides the fact the fields are simply dominated by the blossom of Adey Ababa, it is that time of year when almost everything incorporate a single or bouquet of Adey Ababa to mark a New Year, New Beginning and most of all HERE COMES THE SUN!
Traditional Ethiopian New Year Song is a unique Amharic song which can only be enjoyed during this time of year when Ethiopians are prepared in welcoming the New Year and on the actual celebration day (Enkutatash) as it is sung by young Ethiopian girls incorporated with the beat of a drum and clapping hands.
This particular Ethiopian traditional New Year song comes with a distinctive scene – during the morning of the celebration day young Ethiopian girls groomed with the renowned and glowingly white Ethiopian traditional costume along with bouquet of Adey Ababa and go door to door to sing and give out the flowers and in return receive gifts of different kind from money to Ethiopian traditional home baked bread (Difo Dabo) and to finish off the song with a wish of good health and prosperity to the giver or the household owner and the whole family.
Ethiopian New Year works of art – Even though Enkutatash is for young Ethiopian girls, the boys are not just spectators rather it is at this time of year they pick their painting brush to be creative and express themselves on a piece of paper which they give out on a New Year’s day by going to door to door. The paintings usually illustrates Angels, Sun, Dove and Flower with happy, vibrant bright colors like yellow and green on a white piece of paper which I think is a simple work of art that enliven spirit extraordinarily and a great way to start a New Year.
Hoping you captured the spirit of Enkutatash through its top three eloquent details, now I would like to give homage to the warmly magical Ethiopian Holiday natural Scents as I believe smell spur memories, arouse our senses, indulge and delight us… beside from all our senses, scent is the one that universally connected with spirit and brings with it happy memories like Holidays.
Starting with Ketema (bunch of freshly picked tall green grass from the field)…strewing Ketema on the floor especially during all Ethiopian holidays, special occasions, events and during the traditional coffee ceremony is an esteemed and longtime Ethiopian tradition whether it is to welcome the holiday spirit or bringing the freshness of nature inside.
The magical Ethiopian Holiday scent begins with the natural green and earthy scents derived from the fresh green grass which usually accompanied with different kinds of aromatic herbs like Ariti (Artemisia Afra), Tej Sar (Lemon Grass), Hades and so on. From all the holiday items locals buy from the local market, along the streets or around many Ethiopian Orthodox churches, Ketema is one of it and mainly during the holidays. Besides the aromatic herbs, the Ketema bundle features Adey Ababa during Enkutatash celebration.
Another interesting Ethiopian household practice to sweeten the air and surroundings especially during the holiday is burning Etan (incense resin) like Frankincense, Myrrh and other. Since Etan is one of the eloquent pieces of Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony, usually the scent of the burning incense followed by the scent of the roasting coffee beans and together creates the warmly Magical Ethiopian Holiday Scent which many Ethiopians have deep and inner spiritual connection with.
Wrapped by vibrant happy colors of Yellow – from Adey Ababa, Green – from the fresh green grass, White – from the traditional clothing… immersed in the scent of natural aromatic herbs, roasting coffee beans, burning incense and embraced by the curtain of a smoke that emanates out of the colorful incense brazier with family and friends at home during this time of year is a distinctive Ethiopian Holiday scene.
Happy Ethiopian New Year!