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Valley Journals

Enkutatash – the Ethiopian New Year celebration

Oct 01, 2018 04:15PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Mothers and their adoptive Ethiopian daughters pose for a picture prior to their dance performance. (Nikki Crown/City Journals)

By Nikki Crown | n.crown@mycityjournals.com

The Ethiopian community in the Salt Lake area celebrated the ushering in of a new year on Sept. 8. According to the Ethiopian calendar, Sept. 11 is the start of a new year. 

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar which uses the calculations of Annius, a 5th-century monk, who placed the Annuciation of Christ eight years later than our calendar. Meaning, at their celebration, they were welcoming in the year 2011. 

The celebration was free to the public and held at the Sugar Beet Pavilion in Sugar House Park. The program included many of the traditional things an Ethiopian New Year would typically hold including a coffee ceremony, dancing, games for the children and lots of yellow daisies. 

The yellow daisies are a symbol of a new life for the Ethiopian people.  Talile who came to America from Ethiopia when she was 12 said, “Mid-September is when the heavy rain finally stopped and the sun finally shines lighting up the yellow daisies in the hills and meadows of the Ethiopia.”

The celebration went from 3-9 p.m. showcasing all the beautiful food, dress and entertainment of Ethiopia. Jojo, the organizer of the event said, “Our culture in unique, you’re not going to find it anywhere else.” 

This was especially true in both the food and the dress. The dancing was highlighted by the beautiful habesha kemis or Ethiopian dress all of the dancers wore, many adorned with yellow daisies. 

The buffet held, among other things, their traditional flat bread, injera, along with hambasha. 

Dibabe Hope Newman, one of the dancers said, “We love our culture and want everyone to be a part of it.” 

Newman works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a refugee resettlement agency here in Utah. She said, “I started college not knowing what I wanted to do. My second year I realized I needed help, and someone to guide me, and I didn’t really have anyone. That's when I realized I wanted to be that someone.”

The feeling of community and a desire to help each other permeated the event. Nowhere was that more evident than in a dance performance put on by the Utah native mothers and their adoptive Ethiopian daughters.