Most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar, but Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar has 12 30-day months, and a 13th month of 5 days (6 days in leap year). Although each calendar has the same number of days, the Julian calendar is about 7-8 years behind the Gregorian calendar. This difference is due to differences in beliefs about when Jesus was born. Today Ethiopians are ringing in 2004!
Most of Ethiopia speaks Amharic, though our kids’ first language is Tigrinya. The Amharic word for new year is “Enkutatash”. Enkutatash means the “gift of jewels.” It is a celebration of the Queen of Sheba’s return from Jerusalem. The Queen of Sheba is an important historical figure to the people of Ethiopia. She was a ruler in the ancient kingdom of Sheba and is referenced in the Bible and the Qur’an. The location of her kingdom is believed to have been in Ethiopia or Yemen.
When she returned from visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem, she was welcomed back with jewels. Since then, this time has been a time of celebration as the rainy season comes to a close. It is not a strictly religious holiday; it is celebrated by the whole country. September, called Meskerem, is a time to celebrate and express future hopes and dreams. Most people get to take the day off.
Happy 2004, dear little ones. Hope you’re having a great day!