Holidays New Year's

Exploring my favorite neighborhoods in Addis Ababa for Ethiopian New Year

Spices in the market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Dawit Leake/YJI)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – While celebrating Ethiopian New Year last month, I got a rare chance to go around the city of Addis Ababa and visit some of my favorite places.
The Ethiopian New Year is based on the Ethiopian calendar which originates from the Orthodox calendar system and has a unique set of 13 months. Ethiopian New Year
falls on the 11th of September and once every four years it falls on the 12th.
This year, the new year fell on Sept. 11.
The last month of our calendar year is “Puagume,” which lasts only of five or six days but is quite special.

In the spice market of Addis Ababa. (Dawit Leake/YJI)

It is believed in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith that the rain that falls during Puagume is holy water. In this month people are encouraged to forgive and forget, accepting the New Year with joy and happiness. New Years in Ethiopia has always had a vibe of forgiveness and harmony.
During my adventure in the city this past New Year’s Eve, I saw people buying dresses in the markets of Shiro Meda, which is a popular and large traditional cloth market area. The set of different colors of Tibebs, which are traditional designs of colorful fabric put on the white cotton dresses, is a way to truly show the city’s diverse look.
Following that I went through and around some neighborhoods where I got to see people rushing around getting things, going places and preparing for the holiday to come.
Next, I went to Piassa, one of my favorite neighborhoods. I adore its old Italian architecture. Here you can find people exploring their shopping options for the New Year.
Finally, I went to Bole, which is a newer neighborhood. Here I decided to take a long walk around while the people I was with finished getting ready. Walking in this
neighborhood, I saw commercial buildings with music and dancing set up at entries to entertain people passing by.
Many people, especially women, were dressed up very traditionally. Some were young girls wishing people a happy new year.
“Melkam Addis Amet,” they would say in Amharic, which means have a pleasant new year.
Most of all I got to see the special feeling of a new beginning on people’s faces, a feeling that only a New Year can bring.
Dawit Leake is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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