ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR ”ENKUTATASH”The Ethiopian New Year falls in September 11 or 12 in a leap year at the end of the big rains season. The sun comes out to shine all day long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air. The highlands turn to gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendors. Ethiopian children clad in brand new clothes dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household.
September 11th is both New Year’s Day and the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. The day is called Enkutatash meaning the “GIFT OF JEWELS.” When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with Enku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside, after dark on New Year’s Eve people light bonfires outside their houses.
Enkutatash is the name for the Ethiopian New Year, and means “gift of jewels” in the Amharic language. The story goes back almost 3,000 years to the Queen of Sheba of ancient Ethiopia and Yemen who was returning from a trip to visit King Solomon of Israel in Jerusalem, as mentioned in the Bible in I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9. She had gifted Solomon with 120 talents of gold (4.5 tons) as well as a large amount of unique spices and jewels. When the Queen returned to Ethiopia her chiefs welcomed her with enku or jewels to replenish her treasury.