Ethiopians across the nation and overseas celebrated the 2009 Ethiopian New Year, ‘Enkutatash’, with various festivities. Ethiopia, a land full of wonders, uses its own calendar (የኢትዮጵያ ዘመን አቆጣጠር) and New Year falls on the 11th of September or on the 12th of the month during a leap year. The Ethiopian New Year is also known as Kidus Yohannes in memory of the beheading of Kidus Yohannes, St. John the Baptist, by King Herod. The Ethiopian New Year also honors the seasonal transition from the main rainy season to the bright and sunny seasons. The countryside turns into sheets of gold with daisies (አደይ አበባ) covering entire fields in rural areas with blooms at this time of year. It symbolizes new hopes and dreams for Ethiopians, orchestrated by the singing of unique songs by girls dressed in traditional clothes and giving bouquets of daisies to each household.
President Mulatu Teshome gave a keynote address to the nation, expressing his wishes for a peaceful and prosperous Ethiopian New Year. The President said that the achievements gained over the past 25 years enabled the nation to set a hallmark for the nation’s journey towards achieving a middle-income economy by eliminating poverty. He noted that it was important in the New Year to sustain the achievements in social and economic sectors and make progress by helping the nation to effectively implement development programs. He added: “To discharge this national responsibility, it is our duty to safeguard the peace and stability of the country.” President Mulatu reiterated: “Any attempt to forward demands by use of force in unconstitutional ways is illegal.” He urged the public not to give a chance for activities aimed at the destruction of national resources and public property, or that might hinder the ongoing development programs of the nation or lead the nation back towards poverty and backwardness. He mentioned the government’s unstinting efforts to answer the demands of the public, and stressed that the government would provide solutions for these problems in accordance with the constitution and in collaboration with the public. The President recalled that Ethiopia was home for numerous different ethnic groups and religions. Sustaining co-existence among religions and ethnicities, he underlined, was critical for realizing the renaissance of the country. He disclosed that the government had granted amnesty to 707 inmates in federal prisons for the New Year.
The leaders of the various Christian denominations and the Islamic faith also extended their New Year best wishes to the peoples of Ethiopia. In his message, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, urged the faithful to resolve disputes through dialogue and thereby ensure peace and stability. The President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Sheikh Mohammed Amin Jemal, underscored the need to nurture the culture of resolving disputes through peaceful means. The Archbishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, Cardinal Birhaneyesus Surafel, also emphasized the need to solve disagreements through peaceful means. The President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, Dr. Wakseyoum Idossa said since peace was most important, the public should safeguard their efforts to achieve it. The Addis Ababa-based Ambassadors of different countries also extended their New Year wishes, expressing hope that bilateral relationships with Ethiopia would continue and expand throughout the Ethiopian year 2009.
The next day, September 12, also marked the popular holiday, the 1437th Eid al Adha festival, when Ethiopian Muslims across the nation commemorated the will of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Such a rare coincidence of the conjunction of these two holidays added an entirely new dimension to the Ethiopian New Year and to Eid al Adha. Ethiopian Muslim leaders urged the Muslim community to celebrate the day with kindness and sense of mutual respect. The President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Hajj Mohammed Amin Jemal, called on the Muslim community to support and share with each other while celebrating the day.
On the occasion of these two holidays, the Government Communication Affairs Office also urged all Ethiopians to maintain their unwavering commitment, as demonstrated in past years, to support the continuous development of the country. The Ministry expressed optimism that the people and government of Ethiopia would continue to work together to achieve the 2nd Growth and Transformation Plan. It called on all the people of the nation to uphold the implementation of the joint decisions of the government and the people during 2009.
Source: MFA Ethiopia / A Week in the Horn