History Behind Enkutatash
New year’s eve is always associated with bonfires surrounded by people all over town ... the sour meal called 'feto' which is said to keep us healthy
New year’s eve is always associated with bonfires surrounded by people all over town in large circles singing holiday medleys and having a jolly good time as the smell of cooking fills up the air. Some stay up until 3 am in the early morning to get a taste of the Doro Wot. In the morning, the sour meal called feto which is said to keep us healthy all year round according to different legends is prepared and ate. Groups of young girls go around houses singing ‘Abebayehush’ with flowers in their hands, while the young boys go around giving away holiday sketches. They are then prized with different forms of rewards like bread or a hundred-birr bill slapped on their foreheads. The coffee ceremony with all its glory is presented with chefe, frankincense, and popcorn, the loaf of fresh bread passed around amongst the guests, and finally the lunch ceremony, with various delicious dishes served with tej and areke. While the locality is no stranger to these ceremonies, let’s go to the meaning and history behind the holiday.
The Ethiopian new year is based on the Alexandrian calendar calculated by a monk named Panadorus or Annias in 400 A.D. The word “Enkutatash” translates to “gift of jewels” based on the Queen of Sheba after her well-known trip to King Solomon. She returned with a generous amount of gold and riches gifted by the king. Her chiefs received her with enku stating the extended version of the word, “enku-le-tatash”. This event coincided with the New Year hence naming the New Year Enkutatash. Unfortunately this year, we might not be able to enjoy the full essence of the holiday due to the global pandemic that is rapidly spreading throughout the country. It is unpredictable how COVID-19 will affect the new year. It might hinder people from coming together or people might find new creative ways around it. How do you think COVID-19 will affect this year’s holiday for you? What will social distancing mean to you in this New Year?