Ethiopia's New Year and a New Website –
We’d Love Your Ideas!
WEEMA Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Today we’re celebrating the new: the Ethiopian New Year and a new website this fall for WEEMA. And a new feature for this week’s WEEMA Wednesday – Ethiopia fun facts!
First, we’re building a new website and would love your input on what you’d like to see in it. Videos? Impact stories? Ways to connect more with our work? Here’s a link to the current website. Anyone offering suggestions – here – will enter a raffle to win a free WEEMA t-shirt and a pound of specialty Ethiopian coffee.
Now back to the fun facts:
Ethiopia’s New Year: New Year’s Day falls on Meskerem 1 in the Ethiopian calendar, which is September 11 (or, during a leap year, September 12, which is the case this year).
The Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash, means the “gift of jewels” in the Amharic language. Legend has it that King Solomon of Jerusalem gave the Queen of Sheba jewels during her famous visit to Jerusalem 3,000 years ago. Her return to Ethiopia after receiving the gift coincided with the New Year celebration in September, hence the name, Enkutatash.
Like the rest of the Ethiopian calendar, the New Year date is greatly intertwined with biblical anecdotes. For starters, the Bible says that the creation of Heaven and Earth happened in September. Another factor is that Ethiopia’s calendar is based on the Julian calendar instead of the globally popular Gregorian calendar. September 11 also coincides with the approximate end of Ethiopia’s rainy season and the beginning of sunny weather, blooming flowers and the bountiful meher harvest – a new beginning, in other words.
Coffee: Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, is the original and very first home of the coffee plant. Kaffa, a province in the southwestern Highlands where the plant first blossomed, gave its name to coffee. According to Ethiopia’s ancient history, a goat herder who lived around 850 AD noticed his goats prancing and bleating excitedly after chewing the bright red berries. He gave the berries a try himself and the coffee bean was discovered. Early morning starts and dull office meetings have never been the same since!
Blue Nile: The Nile River, the longest river in the world, traces its origins to Ethiopia. The Blue Nile, which supplies 80 percent of the water to the 4,135-mile river during the rainy season, originates in Lake Tana in northwestern Ethiopia. The 900-mile river flows south from Lake Tana and then west across Ethiopia and northwest into Sudan where it connects with the White Nile. It gets its name, ‘blue,” because floods during the summer monsoons erode vast amounts of fertile soil, turning the river’s water dark brown or almost black.
Lucy the Fossil: Some of the world’s oldest human fossils are also from Ethiopia – among those, the celebrated Ethiopian skeleton, Lucy, which is 3.2 million years old. Lucy was the first Australopithecus skeleton ever found, a group of creatures that came before our own group of species. Lucy, who has a mix of ape and human features, was found in 1974 in the northern village of Hadar and is now on display at the National Museum of History in Addis Ababa.