Ethiopians living in and outside of their motherland attach a special importance to their New Year “Meskerem 1” or more commonly known as “Enqutatsh”. Enqutatash declares the ushering in of the new Ethiopian year and that further marks the end of long rainy season.
The Ethiopian Calender is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical year for Christians in Eritrea, Eastern Catholic Churches and Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Like the Coptic calendar, the Ethiopian calendar has twelve months of 30 days each and five or six days which make up the 13th month. The addition of the 13th month to the Ethiopian calendar adds to the attractions of tourism in the country. There is a seven- to eight-year gap between the Ethiopian and Western calendars; in the time between beginning of January and end of September, Ethiopian calendar year lags behind the European calendar by 8 years and that between beginning of September and end of December lags behind by 7 years.
Traditionally, children get new clothing and distribute freshly picked flowers, families share visits with friends and the country from one corner to the other echoes with New Year songs. Apart from the change of one year to another, Enqutatash is observed differently from other holidays. It’s a day when each citizen makes evaluation of his/her past performance and sets out goals for the ensuing year. Schools start in the first week of the new year. Particularly the farmers in the country side observe this day in anticipation of better crop year and year free of diseases for the cattle and herds. As a public holiday, the celebration starts with different preparations. Among the different things prepared for the day include, among many others, brewing Tela and making traditional bread, roasting freshly harvested corn (bekolo), etc. Fresh grasses and flowers are collected and spread all over the floor of each household wishing a prosperous new year. On the day of Enqutatash, depending on the financial situation of each person, a family gets doro (hen), sheep/goat for the day, family members and those from nearby neighbors get together and eat together. In addition to making these preparations, some members of the community get together and contribute to buy ox and share the beef meat. Citizens exchange verbal and written wishes for the new year and different musical events are conducted thereby heralding the ensuing year in different ways. Lighting of torches or chibos is the most common ways of telling the replacement of the dark rainy season by sunlight. In the evenings on that same day each member of the family holds a lighted torch (chibo) and under the guidance of the head of the family, lightly pokes each side of the door frame thrice uttering the replacement of hunger and poverty by prosperity.
Unlike the many centuries of the past, this time Ethiopians are not blessed to celebrate it with the same spirit as before. Since the time Woyane, the Tegrian minority regime, took power in 1991, thousands of citizens have been killed, unlawfully detained, tortured and disappeared. Unrest perpetuated by the ethnic regime has been on the rise day by day and the number of internally displaced people is on the increase. The catastrophic situation in the areas of the Amhara and Oromia regions for now and in other regions very soon will have a destabilizing effect in the security of the horn of Africa. The country is becoming increasingly entrenched, with the total breakdown of law and order. The farmers are forming their own leaders in the territories where the government has lost control. Unfortunately now is not the time for Ethiopian people to celebrate the new year of 2009 (Ethiopian Calendar), Families of the killed, unlawfully detained by the fascist minority are mourning the day instead of joyfully celebrating it. It is to time to mourn our losses and revenge the dictatorial regime of Woyane and its supporters in every way possible. We are optimistic that the new year shall create a conducive environment to come out victorious in our struggle to abolish Woyane. May God keep us united against our enemy Woyane.