By Sileshi Tessema and Abebech Tamene
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopians celebrated their New Year on Sunday, with the country’s Muslim population preparing for the start of the Eid al-Adha festival the following day.
The country welcomed the year 2009 -- the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar is nearly seven years behind the Georgian calendar -- as families and friends gathered to spend time together eating and drinking.
On Monday, Ethiopian Muslims, who make up around a third of the population, will join the rest of the Islamic world in marking the start of the feast of the sacrifice to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah.
Due to the lunar calendar of Islam, this is the first time in many people’s lifetimes that Eid al-Adha and New Year have coincided so closely.
However, the double celebration is marred by unrest in the central Oromia and northern Amhara regions in which, according to rights groups, hundreds have been killed by security forces since November.
A hike in the price of meat and livestock has also hit many households preparing for the New Year feast.
Across the capital Addis Ababa, residents dressed in traditional white outfits bought green reeds and yellow daisies to spread on the floors of their homes.
Families sat down to meals of injera, a flat bread made of teff flour, and doro wot chicken stew -- a popular meal that is usually rounded off with local coffee.
“New Year brings unique flavor as seasons change and three months of incessant rains give way to sunshine,” mother-of-four Selamawit Getachew said.
Because animals are slaughtered for both festivals, prices have rocketed in recent weeks. Goats and sheep that fetched around $100 last year are being sold for double the price in some towns.
“Prices are high for obvious reasons,” Tamiru Belay, a cattle trader, said. As well as the high demand created by the proximity of the festivals, Belay said road blockages in Oromia had caused a shortage of supply.