What Is Ethiopian New Year?

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

This celebration is based on the Ethiopian calendar. Emperor Augustus of Rome adapted to the Julian calendar in 25 BC with a start date of 29 August J.C., thereby establishing the New Year on this day.

The date approximates the end of the “rainy season.” It has also traditionally been associated with the Queen of Sheba’s return to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem around 980 BC.  Large-scale celebrations are staged around the country, most notably at the Regal Church, a top 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.

“Enkutatash is not solely a religious celebration,” according to the Ethiopian Tourism Commission. Instead of the traditional flower, modern Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban elite.


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)

Ethiopian year counting started in the year 8 of the common era. This is because Dionysius, a 6th-century monk, calculated the typical age.

At the same time, non-Chalcedonian countries continued to adopt the measurements of Annius, a 5th-century monk who had put Christ’s Annunciation precisely eight years later. As a result, on Enkutatash in the Gregorian calendar year 2016, it became 2009 in the Ethiopian calendar.