The Ethiopian New Year falls in September at the end of the big rains. The highlands turn to gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendor. Ethiopian children clad in brand new clothes dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household. September 11th is both New Year's Day and the Feast of St. John the Baptist.
The day is called Enkutatash meaning the "gift of jewels." When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with enku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. After dark on New Year's Eve people light fires outside their houses.
In Ethiopia more than 34,000 Jamaicans reportedly gathered from all across the world to ring in the new millennium. Jamaicans at home turned out in huge numbers on what was New Years eve and the celebrations were intense – very moving and spiritual overall. About a thousand strong rammed Mandela Park where speeches, drumming and movement were the order of the day until 8:00PM.
Livity Restaurant kept the festive mood alive until a little past midnight with an intimate and spirit filled concert. "A naw tell no lie," Sister Isis, the show's host said, "But I really wanted to be in Ethiopia tonight." Everyone could relate to that strong sentiment and still boundless joy was thick in the Livity Restaurant air.
Artistes and cultural icons rolled in and gave their contributions – affording attendees a priceless gift. Among those who not only performed, but hung out, milling around and interacting with all the "Family" in the house, were: Sister Carol, Etana, Empress, Jackie "Mutamba" Cohen, Ikebulan and Tarrus Riley.
"I had to participate - because it is a "Glorious Day" – Etana told Yardflex.