September 11th is the Ethiopian New Year. In the European calendar, a new year starts on January 1st. In Ethiopia, however, it starts on September 11th. The Ethiopians use their own calendar which has 13 months a year. From the first month to the 12th month, there are 30 days in each month. 30 times 12 makes 360. As you can imagine, in the 13th month, there are 5 days in ordinary years and 6 days in a leap year. Thirteen months a year! “Beary” interesting!
My mom used to work in Ethiopia. She says that the Ethiopian calendar was “beary” confusing, but that it is good for the Ethiopians to have maintained their own culture. September 11th corresponds to our January 1st. On September 11th, my mom and I sent a new year’s message to our Ethiopian friends. In the Ethiopian calendar, the year 2013 corresponds to 2006. Huh? Ethiopia is seven years behind us? Oh, dear! No more confusion! Let me move on.
The Enset, which looks like a banana tree, is a variety of flora that grows in Ethiopia. Women extract fiber from Enset trees. One Ethiopian young man, who had learned paper-making techniques in Uganda and India, started a paper-making business in Addis Ababa by utilizing Enset fiber. My mom used to work with him when she was working for an entrepreneurship development project in Ethiopia. She is not working for the project any longer, but one of her Japanese colleagues then, who is still working for the project, brought back some Enset paper for her. Recently, she has been trying to develop new products from Enset paper.
Look! My mom made a “New Year’s Tree” from Enset paper to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year! On the tree, you can see some coffee beans. These are also from Ethiopia. Mom and I think that coffee is the national symbol of Ethiopia. In the world, there are a lot of coffee-producing countries, but coffee originated in Ethiopia. Did you know that? In Ethiopia, there is a region (zone) called Cafe (Cafa), which proves that Ethiopia is the origin of coffee. Moreover, in Ethiopia, they have a coffee ceremony, which is a traditional coffee-serving technique that Ethiopian women are expected to acquire. Anyway, coffee is a special product for Ethiopians!
Look at the cherry-blossom-shaped trays that my mom made! Cherry blossoms are the symbol of Japan. My mom made them as a token of friendship between Ethiopia and Japan. She put some Ethiopian snack called koro, which is roasted barley. You can put anything in the tray, for example, candy, cookies, and accessories.
Origami, a paper-folding technique, is one of the Japanese traditional arts. My mom is “beary” good at it. She proposes a new way to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year. Why don’t you put a koro-filled cherry blossom tray and a coffee-bean tree on the table at the New Year’s party? Could anybody send her to Ethiopia again to celebrate the next New Year?