Ethiopia celebrates the New Year on Saturday, Meskarem 1 (September 12)
Ethiopia celebrates the first day of the New Year, 2008, on Saturday (September 12) or in the Ethiopian calendar, Meskarem 1. It is the time of spring, with the rains over. The hills are covered with wild flowers, young girls singing “Abeba Ayehosh” in a pentatonic jazz sound, people wishing each other Happy New Year everywhere, honoring the seasonal transition from the heavy rainy season to a season of bright sunshine, children, particularly in the countryside, carrying gifts of bunches of flower, a tradition stemming from the Queen of Sheba's homecoming from Israel after her visit to King Solomon. The flowers add another scent to the sweet smelling Eucalyptus so prevalent in the highlands, an air "so good to breath, so full of joy and so free from fear".
The Ethiopian calendar is a mix of the Coptic calendar, derived from the calculations of Annianus of Alexandria in around 400 CE (the Incarnation Era) and of another Alexandrian monk Panodorus about the same time (the Alexandrian Era) with the addition of other elements from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Calendar- "Bahre Hasab".
The Ethiopian Calendar is 7 or 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar as the result of an alternate calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus. It also has an additional thirteenth five or six day month, Pagme. So Saturday is the beginning of the new Ethiopian year, 2008. The common joke for a foreigner is that he/she can be seven or eight years younger as soon as she/he arrives in Ethiopia. In fact, anyone who experiences life in Ethiopia, the music of more than 80 nationalities, the food, the coffee, the antiquities, history, tolerance and genuine friendship, can feel he is at least seven years younger in what Homer called “the land of the blameless Ethiopians.”.
Saturday not only marks the end of the year 2007 and the beginning of 2008; it also marks the end of the country’s largely successful Growth and Transformation Plan I (2010/2011-2014/2015). The Growth and Transformation Plan II is now being launched and as the New Year is a symbol of renewed commitment so the Growth and Transformation Plan aims to augment Ethiopia’s growth and development. A New Year is a mark of renewed pledges: to continue to work for a carbon-free green economy, to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda agreed at the recent Finance for Development Forum, ensure ‘zero tolerance’ for any kind of abuse against women and children, for all the Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia to remain committed to continue the country’s remarkable economic and developmental progress. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledges to continue implementing the GTP II with renewed commitment to promote the national interest and realize Ethiopia’s renaissance.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes all its readers: Melkam Addis Amet - Happy New Year.