The word Enkutatash is heavy with symbolism as it not only means the ‘gift of jewels’ but also represents the end of the rainy season —the time of year during which the Ethiopian landscape is covered with bright yellow flowers called Adey Abeba.
The Ethiopian New Year’s celebration is said to date back to the time when the Queen of Sheba returned from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in 980 BC. The Queen was welcomed back in her country with plenty of jewels, also known as “enku” in the official national language.
Enkutatash celebrations for the Ethiopian New Year typically last an entire week and revolve around family gatherings.
On New Year’s Eve, Ethiopians light wooden torches —known as “chibo” in the local language— to symbolize the coming of the new season of sunshine now that the rain season comes to its end.
Foreign nationals that visit the country during this time of year may want to learn to say Happy New Year in Amharic: Enkuan Aderesachihu!