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Ethiopian New Year

The blessed month of September is the first of the circle of the years of Ethiopia and Egypt. The first day and the night of this month are equal–twelve hours. Then the day during this month September diminished because this month is the first of the circle of the years of Ethiopia and Egypt. Now it is meet that we should make therein a great feast in all purity, because this day is holy and blessed, and we should remove ourselves from evil works.

We should begin to do good works and new, whereby God is pleased, even as Paul the apostle said, “Behold, every work is made new in Christ. Behold old works have passed away, and behold new works are known, and every work is from God” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thus have God had pleasure over us in Christ, and He has given us the ministration of His mercy and compassion. Isaiah the Prophet said, “The Spirit of God is upon me; therefore, has He appointed me and sent me to preach to those who are in captivity, to those who are in prison, to set them free, to the blind that they may see the light, to those who are bound that they be set free and to preach the year of the mercy of God” (Isaiah 61:1-2). Prophet David said: “You have blessed the crown of the year (with) mercy and the desert is satisfied with dew by your blessing.” (Psalm 65:11)

In our country Ethiopia, we call our new year ‘Enkutatash’ the term originated from the Amharic words “Enku” and “Letateshe” meaning “a diamond ring to you finger” which resembles the diamond ring that King Solomon gave to Queen Sheba returning back from her visit of Jerusalem. Onwards that time, the new year begun to also be called ‘Enkutatash.’

In the new year’s, Christians celebrate it singing religious psalm specially girls and young women in every neighborhood. Holy Church a special service is held all the Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church. After the Diving Liturgy, the archpriest in reads the Liturgical calendar of the year for the coming fasting and festivity season. The Chronology (Bahire Hasab) is used to calculating the times of festivals, the beginning and end of the fasting days during the year.

After the reading, the Archpriest declares the replacement of the old year by the new one declaring the previous year had passed and the new had taken its place. “The reign of Mark has come to an end, and Luke has arraigned.” Whilst the Archpriest repeats the declaration triple times, the gathered laities ardently repeat after him. As this festival commemorates both the New Year and the Feast of Saint John.

May God grant us peace and happiness in the new year, Amen!

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