Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day (or Enkutatash) is celebrated in September towards the end of the big rains. Unlike the 1 January date, which is comparatively arbitrary, New Year’s Day in Ethiopia marks a new season and a new beginning.
In the United States, Enkutatash is typically celebrated on or around September 11th. Public celebrations of Enkutatash often occur on the weekend before or immediately after the ‘official’ holiday. This year, in consideration of the bigger 9/11 commemorations as well as the Ohio State Football schedule, the Columbus Ohio celebration will be held on September 18th, from 10-6.
Each year, as the workload for the Enkutatash celebration increases, I think, “This will be the last year I help to plan. Next year, I’ll attend as a guest.” This notion is quickly shunted aside, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think it would be nice to spend summer doing a little less.
BUT, then I go to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services office for an Enkutatash meeting with my Ethiopian daughter by my side. In an instant she is surrounded by a half dozen Ethiopian adults she has known for the last 3+ years. By the end of an hour, she’s spent time chatting with another half dozen Ethiopian adults, all eager to bestow kisses and greetings. This link to the Ethiopian community means more to me than any summer afternoon spent at the zoo, or picnic in the park.
My daughter will grow up with Ethiopian friends to play with, she’ll know families that look remarkably like ours, but she also have adoring Ethiopian adults in her life, and Ethiopian friends who grow up in families who look little like ours.
And so, despite the large part of my grey matter that yells, “too much” when I add another commitment to my schedule, I will continue, whole-heartedly to plunge in to the Ethiopian community whenever I am asked. These relationships, like the Queen of Sheba’s jewels, are priceless indeed.
Melkam Addis Amet!