Rastafarian: Happy Ethiopian New Year!

Meskel daisies—Ethiopia’s national flower—are in full bloom on New Year’s Day, indicating the end of a long rainy seasonSUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Happy New Year—Ethiopian style! Since Rastafarians consider Ethiopia their spiritual homeland, both Rastas and Ethiopian citizens give thanks for a fresh year today. The official name for the New Year is Enkutatash; celebrants attend church, eat traditional flat bread and stew (try your hand at Wat stew with this recipe), and the young earn money while the elderly share hopes for the New Year. Perhaps most importantly, the New Year marks the end of the rainy season, and Ethiopians in villages across the country dance and sing with joy. Historically, the Queen of Sheba returned to Ethiopia after a visit to King Soloman and was welcomed home with jewels: Enkutash means “Gift of Jewels.” (Visit Rastaites.com for more.)

American Rastas have drawn criticism in recent years for holding grand parties on such a somber day in recent American history, but the Ethiopian New Year was in place for centuries before the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The Orthodox Julian calendar, followed by Ethiopians, consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of four or five days, depending on the presence of a leap year. (Wikipedia has details.) This calendar follows Christian tradition, beginning on the Annunciation of Jesus and having the four years of the leap year cycle named after the four Evangelists: John, Matthew, Mark and Luke.

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