Enqutatash, Enquan Metash, Babeboch Mehal…Enfineshnesh!
Ethiopian New Year is typically different and unique in the World. Unlike the others, the Ethiopian New Year is closely associated with the nature’s calendar, i.e. phenology of plants.
“Enqutatash”, meaning “gift of jewels”, is celebrated each year on September 11 or “Meskerem” 1 according to the Ethiopian Calendar, that fits well with the flowering season of most herbaceous species. Species diversity (richness) and abundance has a direct link to the Ethiopian New Year celebration. Almost all of the species with high social and cultural value are either endemic or indigenous to Ethiopia. We present here the most widely known cultural practices on the Ethiopian New Year using biological resources such as ornamentals, food, drinks and ecosystem services.
The brightly yellow-colored flowers of “Adey Abeba” (Bidens pilosa) are parts and parcels of the New Year celebration in the country. On this New Year, floors of each house in Ethiopia are decorated with fresh grasses, sedges and the deep yellow colored flowers of Adey Abeba.
Other plant species used include bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) for making the traditional bread called “Difo Dabo”, Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) for “Fendisha”, which is a roasted sorghum used during coffee ceremony, Coffee (Coffea arabica) for drinking and also for its excellent aroma, “Teff” (Eragrostis teff) for making “Injera” and others.
The locally made alcohol called “Tella” is also prepared from different types of cereals including maize (Zea maiz), barley (Hordeum vulgarae), sorghum and Gesho (Rhamnus prinoides). Besides, animals are among the major parts of the New Year celebration. Hen used for making “Doro Wot”, cattle (mostly bulls) for preparing the different types of meat sauces, etc. Other products of biodiversity such as milk, butter, cheese, etc. are also among the most important ingredients in celebrating the New Year.
Micro-organisms also play a significant role in this celebration. To mention only few, the excellent taste of “Difo Dabo” (Bread) and “ergo” (yoghurt ) are the direct contributions of microorganisms. In general, many different types of plants, animals and microorganisms are directly linked to the Ethiopian New Year. It has to be noted that the above lists are much far from complete.
The eagerly awaited Ethiopian New Year is most remembered for the beautiful celebration decorated with flowers as well as for the diverse food types. Ethiopia is among the most diverse countries both biologically and culturally. This diversity has high economic and social value and therefore should be conserved.