Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ethiopians gather beneath Washington Monument to celebrate their new year

(Sept 11, 2012, Washington post)--They arrived by foot and taxi, Metro and minivan, tens of thousands of Ethio­pian Americans gathering beneath the Washington Monument, some waving their country’s flag, others dressed in the traditional gauzy-white clothing of their homeland. Tourists wandered by and wondered what was happening. World Cup? Political demonstration?

In what organizers called one of the region’s largest gatherings of Ethiopians, thousands of people came from Virginia, Maryland, the District and several other East Coast areas Sunday evening to celebrate a holiday that falls on Sept. 11: the Ethio­pian New Year.

“Happy 2005!” Asratie Asfaw Teferra, 49, said proudly — the ancient African calendar still used in Ethi­o­pia being seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar. In addition to the new year, the festival commemorates the end of the country’s long rainy season, when the sun comes out and the fields fill with yellow daisies.

In the United States, there is neither a rainy season nor flower-filled fields — and Tuesday’s date has inauspicious connotations. But that hasn’t quelled the desire of Ethio­pian Americans to be embraced by their adopted land. They want to be an ethnic group that matters. They want to belong. And that means they want a holiday.

“We envision it like Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day and the Chinese New Year,” said Teferra as he helped unload a station wagon filled with injera, the staple bread of Ethiopia. “Maybe in the past we were an insular culture. But now we run businesses and restaurants, we vote, we’re citizens. We’re part of the cultural tapestry of America.” Read more from Washington Post »

Related topics:
'Enkutatash' እንቁጣጣሽ (Ethiopian New Year)
Celebrating the Ethio­pian New Year 

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