A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Partying like its 1999 - Ethiopians to Celebrate Year 2000
By Keisha Saul

It's time to get the checkbooks out and book your hotels. In preparation to celebrate the Ethiopian Millennium, tourism and travel to Ethiopia is expected to be at record high levels. The festivities are being planned, including the planting of 56 million trees, a music festival across the country, and a number of cultural conferences.

The Julian calendar, which was discontinued in the West after Pope Gregory XIII switched to the Gregorian calendar, is still used in Ethiopia. According to the Julian, Ethiopia's New Year is to be celebrated on September 12th, 2007. Seven years short of the Gregorian calendar, the Julian has 12 months, each containing 30 days. Every four years, there is also a 13th month, which contains 5 days.

The beliefs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church dictate that God created the world 5500 years before the birth of Christ. Ethiopians also calculate time from dawn, rather than from midnight, which may create some confusion in the West. Heartily awaiting their millennium, Ethiopians plan to show that there is more to their country than unrest and poverty.

Ethiopian Millennium 2000 (ethiopia2000.com) is a website established by The Ethiopian Millennium Festival National Secretariat and contains a countdown to the festivities. It was also important to the site that an understanding of his country's history, culture, and diversity be properly understood in its efforts to promote the celebrations. The site also promotes projects across Ethiopia through the Ethiopian Millennium Project, with hope to resolve the environmental, health, and educational concerns across the country “ One of the main purposes of the Ethiopian Millennium Project is to engage the Ethiopian community at large, educators and policy makers, researchers and learners, in Ethiopia and throughout the world, in an ongoing, mediated discussion regarding Health, Education and The Environment. In doing so, we hope to create an atmosphere in which all voices, representing the widest range of experience and perspective can be heard. ”

Ethiopians aren't the only ones who will be celebrating – Africans from other countries of the continent and African Americans will also be present at the celebrations. Ethiopia has one of the most fascinating cultures across the world – with over 80 ethnic groups, the cultures of many different communities pattern Ethiopian lifestyle. The country's ancient traditions provide a stern religious setting and opportunity for many festivals and celebrations on many occasions across the country. Celebrations include Enkutatash (New Year's) and Faseka, which is Ethiopian Easter.

Over 400, 000 people are expected to travel to Ethiopia to attend the festivities. On the night of September 11th, a large cultural event will commence in a stadium specially built for the celebrations. The event will feature musicians from all around the world, as well as various media personalities. Over 20, 000 people are expected to attend. The evening will of course feature authentic Ethiopian food and beer.

Can't travel to Ethiopia? Don't worry about it – the festivities will continue at various sites across the Ethiopian Diaspora. Outside of Ethiopia, Washington DC has the largest concentration of Ethiopians. With estimates of around 100 thousand Ethiopians there, the state is the ideal venue for the celebrations. Ethiopian communities in North America and the Diaspora will come together to mark the day. Also on the list of places in the Ethiopian Diaspora to enjoy the Millennium are:

Los Angeles, California
Atlanta, Georgia
London, UK
Toronto, Canada