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CULTURE // Happy Ethiopian New Year!

New Year’s in September? That’s right. Tomorrow, September 11th, marks the beginning of 2011 in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has its own calendar that marks the birth of Jesus as seven years later than the American (Gregorian) calendar. So let the festivities begin with all the flair, hope, and good food one could possibly muster!

And therein lies the duality of this day. For Ethiopians, it’s a day of celebration and renewal; for Americans, it’s a day of mourning and remembrance. But, what is it like for Ethiopian Americans? We asked some Ethiopian-American friends of Parker Clay, and below are snippets of what we heard.

“My fondest memories celebrating this holiday would be my mom making a TON of Ethiopian food, sitting around in our living room with Ethiopian coffee, and doing cultural dances with my family. While beautiful, it was such a surface-level celebration. We didn’t really talk about the meaning of this day. I really wish we had.”

“Being a first generation Ethio-American, when I was younger, I felt like I didn’t really understand the history behind this day, nor did I really want to. I didn’t care for the history, and when my family tried to explain the history, it was in their broken English, and I just didn’t have patience for it. Now it’s different though. I want to explore the history and not just the history, but my culture  -- both the American side and the Ethiopian side. 9/11 is a day for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

“I really want to be a part of something…even if it’s messy, complicated, and hard. 9/11 is a day to go beyond the routine and think about where and how you belong even though it’s a hard day.”

These stories have so much to teach us. Don’t take the day, each day really, for granted. Don’t miss the power of this day. Don’t go at it alone.

No matter what September 11th conjures up for you, it is courage that unites us. Courage to be seen for our true selves and our true state of mind, everyday, but on this one in particular. Courage to really listen, to laugh and to cry, and to simply acknowledge our interconnectedness. Courage to show up, to share our story, whether it’s drowning in sorrow, full of joy, or somewhere in between. While showing up can be hard and scary, we can learn about ourselves, each other, and how connected we truly are.

May September 11th mark a special day for you that includes its global, collective significance. Melkem Addis Amit, Happy New Year!

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