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Ethiopian New Year Brings Dallas Community Together

A woman dances at the 2017 Ethiopian Cultural Festival.

Ethiopian New Year is next week, and the Ethiopian community in North Texas will start celebrating this weekend at a festival in Garland.

Thousands are expected to attend the annual Ethiopian Cultural Festival, also called Ethiopia Day. It’s organized by the Mutual Assistance Association for Ethiopian Community (MAAEC)

The events feature singers from Ethiopia, traditional food and a coffee ceremony — Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of the coffee plant.

The North Texas Ethiopian community has grown to around 40,000 people. And with that, Ethiopians have created spaces for themselves, like restaurants, grocery stores and churches, and this weekend's festival.

The festival is happening from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday, and from 2 p.m. Sunday to 12 a.m. Monday at the Genesis Event Center in Garland.


Ethiopian New Year, called Enkutatash, marks the beginning of spring, when yellow daisies pop up around the country. In Ethiopia, a yellow daisy is referred to as a "Meskel Flower" or "Adey Abeba." 

Credit Shutterstock
View of a meskel flower blooming slope in Simein mountain park, Ethiopia

Enkutatash means "gift of jewels" in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The name is derived from the story of the Queen of Sheba’s return to Ethiopia after her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem. The legend is that she gave the king many gifts on her visit, so in return, when she got back to Ethiopia, she was showered with gifts of jewels, or "enku" in Amharic.

Traditionally, many Ethiopian families go to church, and children gather daisies and sing and dance in their neighborhoods.

Ethiopian New Year is on Meskerem 1 on the Ethiopian calendar, which is Sept. 11 in the Gregorian calendar. But since it's a leap year, it occurs on Sept. 12.

Galilee Abdullah is a producer for KERA's "All Things Considered" and evening newscasts.