What Is Ethiopian New Year?

Enkutatash is the first day of the New Year in Ethiopia. According to the Gregorian calendar, it occurs on Meskerem 1 on the Ethiopian calendar, which is 11 September.

This holiday is based on the Ethiopian calendar, which was fixed to the Julian calendar in 25 BC by Emperor Augustus of Rome with a start date of 29 August J.C., thus establishing the New Year on this day.

The date marks the approximate end of the “rainy season.” It has also been associated traditionally with the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in ca. 980 BC.

Large celebrations are held around the country, notably at the Ragual Church on Entoto mountain.

According to University Magazine Senior Editor, Anwar Abdi, “after attending church in the morning, families gather to share a traditional meal of injera (flatbread) and wat (stew). Later in the day, young girls don new clothes, gather daisies and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs.

However, according to the Ethiopian Tourism Commission, “Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday. Modern Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated instead of the traditional bouquet.

The Ethiopian counting of years begins in the year 8 of the common era. This is because the typical age follows the calculations of Dionysius, a 6th-century monk.

At the same time, the non-Chalcedonian countries continued to use the measures of Annius, a 5th-century monk, which had placed the Annunciation of Christ precisely eight years later. For this reason, on Enkutatash in the year 2016 of the Gregorian calendar, it became 2009 in the Ethiopian.


Ethiopian Calendar

MonthsEthiopian calendarGregorian calendar
1Meskerem (month 1) September (month 9)
2Tikimt (month 2) October (month 10)
3Hidar (month 3) November (month 11)
4Tahsas (month 4) December (month 12)
5Tir (month 5) January (month 1)
6Yakatit (month 6) Febuary (month 2)
7Magabit (month 7) March (month 3)
8Miyazya (month 8) April (month 4)
9Ginbot (month 9) May (month 5)
10Sene (month 10) June (month 6)
11Hamle (month 11) July (month 7)
12Nehasa (month 12) August (month 8)
13Pagumiene (month 13) September 6 - September 10 (ends September 11, during leap years)