Category Archives: New Year

Happy New (Ethiopian) Year

Today is 5/13/2008 in Ethiopia, the fifth of the 13th month 2008! And tomorrow will be the 1/1/2009! This 13th month is Pagumay generally 5 days long, but on leap years it is 6 days.

Meskal flowers in Meket, North Wollo

Meskal flowers in Meket, North Wollo

Many think that New Year marks the end of the rainy season, well not quite, but it does mark the point at which the rains get less frequent, the flowers start to come out and the promise of a new harvest is seen around the country.

This year by a happy coincidence Eid al Adha also falls in the coming days.

So best wishes to everyone for a happy holidays and a peaceful 2009!

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Welcome to 2008

Ethiopia has just moved into 2008, on the 12th September 2015 by most of the world’s calendar.


New Year grass and sticks

For three years in four the Ethiopian New Year comes on 11th September, but 2007 being a leap year there was an extra day popped on the end of the year, thus moving the New Years day to the 12th. The rest of the word has their leap some 5 months later.

So what do you need to celebrate New Year?

Start of with ‘Chubbo’ bundles of sticks that are used for the bonfire on the eve.  Take a bundle of green grass to decorate the floor for the coffee ceremony.  You could decorate the green floor with flowers too.

New Year chickensThere is a lot of preparation to be done too.  Key among them is the ‘doro wot’ – a spicy chicken stew. Better go to the market, and there is one on the corner of most streets for New Year to buy yourself a chicken. Prices have soared, with a chicken costing upwards of $12 USD. You’ll need to get a few eggs too, a real doro wot has boiled eggs in it.

Enjara needs to be baked – the sour dough Ethiopian pancake on which the spicy food is eaten takes quite a lot of work as the liquid dough is prepared a few days in advance to ferment and the enjara is baked one piece at a time. A challenge this year was the frequent power cuts that interrupted the process leaving many still preparing enjara in the early hours of the morning.

Many will also slaughter a sheep, and vast numbers of sheep (and goats) are walked into Addis from ay miles away, by what would have been known as drovers in England’s past. Huge sheep and goat markets appear around the city and in various locations around the town. Prices go upwards from $130 USD depending on the size of the sheep and how close to the holiday.  Some people will group together to share on an ox.

New Year sheep skinsNot a great day for vegetarians! Every street corner bears witness to the numbers of sheep and goats that were slaughtered. Trucks and pickups then collect these skins, part of the trade in skins which is one of Ethiopia’s significant exports.

Ethiopia’s calendar has a number of big festivals at which chickens, sheep, goats and oxen are dispatched in large numbers, but then it also has many fasting periods when all Orthodox butchers close and meat is off the menu. so perhaps it all evens out.

Sheep escape New YearSome of the sheep escaped to hang in there for another day…  So happy new year to all, and may 2008 good one!

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