Happy New Year to all of our AJ Friends and Family! We hope 2021 is off to a marvelous start! In Ethiopia, the New Year holiday is celebrated in September, but here in the US, we just finished celebrating the turn of a new year!
Some people have asked us before, “What is New Years like in Ethiopia?” Many cultural and religious performances take place during the New Year, among which is a cultural song called ‘Abebayehosh’. On New Year’s Day, there is a traditional performance where girls approach homes in their neighborhoods singing, clapping, and beating their drums. One girl among the group leads the song chanting the verses, whereas the rest follow the lyrics by saying “Lemlem.” Girls wear either one of their favorite dresses or a new cultural dress, if they receive one. They also hold “adey abeba,” which means yellow flower. This flower is unique to Ethiopia and grows between September and October. For foreigners flying to Ethiopia during this season, “adey abeba” spreads over the fields of Ethiopia and it is an eye-catching sight!
Homes visited by girls singing will reward the girls with money or pieces of holiday bread called “Defo Dabo.” In the old days, people used to give bread only, but more and more in the cities it has become common to give money instead. After receiving the gift, girls will sing again praising the head of the house and the family they visited. Among the praises include “let us find you richer when we return next year,” “let us find you blessed with more children when we return next year,” and “with more cattle when we return next year.”
What Ethiopians do on the New Year’s Eve is also another long-existing tradition. When it gets dark, families and neighbors gather in their front yards to light “chebo” (a bonfire). Everyone (men, women, girls, and boys) sing and dance around the fire warmly welcoming the New Year and delivering best wishes to one another. Young boys have a special role in preparing the bonfire, which often is not an easy task, for the rainy season just ended and finding dry wood is difficult.
On the next day, like most of the Ethiopian holidays, the New Year is received with a feast where slaughtering of sheep is done at home. Delicious holiday dishes will be served!
Tell us how you spent your New Year’s Eve and New Years Day…we hope it was a day of great joy and many blessings!