September 11 (September 12 prior to leap years)
Happy New Year!
September 11th (or 12th) is New Year’s Day in Ethiopia, following the Coptic calendar and observed in the Rastafarian tradition. It marks the end of the rainy season in Ethiopia.
2000 years ago, the Ethiopian calendar fell on the equivalent of August 8 or 9. However, because of disparities between different calendars, the day now falls in September.
“The name Enkutatash was given when the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Salomon in Jerusalem. Her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with “Fuku,” or jewels.”
2009’s celebration marks the year 2002 AM in the Ethiopian Calendar. The festival is also the saint day of John the Baptist.
Enkutatash is celebrated with bonfires on New Year’s Eve, dancing, singing and prayers. On September 11, 2001, Ethiopians in the homeland and around the world were celebrating Enkutatash when planes flew into the World Trade Center.
“People who passed by and did not know what we were here for thought we were celebrating the attack, but we would never do anything like that,” said Ras Delbert Christie of the Montego Bay Ethiopian World Federation. (“Rastafarians Celebrate Ethiopian New Year in Jamaica”, World Wide Religious News, 2002)
Two weeks after Enkutatash, Ethiopians celebrate the finding of the true cross, or Meskel.