HAPPY NEW YEAR ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia is a very special country as it has:
- 13 months (they call it 13 months of Sunshine)
- We were in „our” 2012, but Ethiopia was celebration 2005 (Julian Calendar – we could feel younger)
- Different time – as Ethiopia is near to the Equator it gets day light at 6am and dark at 6pm all year. They would tell the time as 12 hours by day and another 12 hours for night. Therefore 7am is 1 o’clock day, 8pm is 2 o’clock night. Asking for the time or meeting someone can be confusing.
- Ethiopians celebrate New Year’s Day on 11th of September and Christmas on 7th January
Due to the fact that we were in Ethiopia in September we had this amazing opportunity to celebrate New Year together with Ethiopians.
NEW YEAR = ENKUTATASH – (meaning from amharic language: “gift of jewels”)
Enkutatash begins a new season, where 3 months of heavy rain ends and the Sun finally comes out. The festival varies from region to region in terms of how it is celebrated. Generally, that day begins with church services and then it’s followed by the family meal. In the afternoon, people go to their loved ones to wish them happy New Year, bringing gifts like local liqueur, bread or even bouquet of seasonal daises. In the evening Ethiopians burn sort of Christmas tree made of twigs in front of their houses, celebrating, dancing and singing (See video)
This special evening we were spending as usual at Wutma Restaurant. Tables were set differently (they were joined and more people could sit together) I think it was about 10pm „our” time, when people stood up and started singing cheerful songs. After a while, everybody went outside. We were watching how huge pile of twigs was burning and how people were celebrating – everyone was happy, singing and clapping hands. Later some brave guys were jumping over the fire. That was so similar and at he same time different to European traditions of spending New Year’s Eve.
PIASSA vs NEW YEAR’S EVE vs Crime
Violence and crime in Addis is relatively rare. People are nice and you don’t have to be worried that someone would assault you. Nevertheless petty thefts and confidence tricks might be problematic.
Charlie and Beck experienced theft attempt. After celebration at Wutma I went to sleep as I cough a cold, while Charlie and Beck decided to go out and explore how other people were spending that special night. Charlie took our small, digital camera and almost got robbed in a very cheeky way. They went to the Piassa, where people were still celebrating and jumping over the fire, even people who walk normally on crutches were giving a try and were jumping over the burning pile of branches! (See video) Suddenly, Beck noticed that all of her stuff from her purse was on the ground. She thought that she dropped that accidentally, but unfortunately someone was trying to steal something from her. Charlie somehow got pushed and he needed to jump over the fire as well. Ethiopians were happy seeing that „farangie” was taking part in their celebration and they were cheering and patting him on the back. It looked like friendly behaviour till Charlie felt someone’s hands in his pockets. He was prepared for thieves and he didn’t have any valuable things with him except that small camera, which he was holding in his hand all the time. Charlie and Beck immediately decided to go back and find some much safer place. They turned around and went to the hotel where Beck was staying. Unfortunately, half of the crowd followed them. One guy noticed that Charlie was holding camera and told him to be careful as people behind might want to steal it. He kept saying: „I will keep it safe for you”, „I take care of it”, but at the same time, he was trying to snatch the camera from Charlie’s hand. Luckily, Charlie was holding the camera firmly, so the guy didn’t manage to take it. Somehow they came back safely to Beck’s hotel, without the procession, which was following them until the gate of the hotel.
Night clubs, Drinking Alcohol and Prostitution
Night-life in Addis is seriously developed…Lots of modern nightclubs and bars, where martinis glow and either Ethiopian or Western beats rain down on hips, are full of both local people and tourists. Vibrant night-life caused development of prostitution. It is claimed that almost every girl in the bar is a prostitute. Many of these women are students, who are trying to make ends meet, widows or refugees. With no social system, prostitution has become for many the only way of survival.
These photos are taken by Beck during New Year’s Eve…
More over if you would like read more about read this post from Beck’s blog: Welcome to Ethiopia – alcohol, discos and a thriving sex industry
“…Some statistics estimate that as many as 1 in 10 Ethiopian women are involved in some form of prostitution. The women who dance in the night clubs are often doing so as a way to solicit themselves, the bedrooms usually being conveniently located at the back of the clubs to make it easy for their potential clients…” text by Beck