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Ethiopia is Still in 2016! Here’s Why
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Ethiopia is Still in 2016! Here’s Why 

Ethiopia Landscape

When we think of calendars, what usually comes to mind is the Gregorian system, with its 365 days and 12 months. However, the Ethiopian culture portrays a different timeframe entirely.

Ethiopia is not just a country rich in culture and ancient traditions, it also stands out for its unique calendar system.

Ethiopia’s calendar is approximately seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar, depending on the time of the year. This difference arises because Ethiopia follows the ancient Coptic calendar, which in turn is based on the older Egyptian calendar. It stems from variations in the calculation of the Annunciation of Jesus Christ. Which means, as it is 2024 in the Gregorian calendar, Ethiopia is celebrating 2016!

The Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months. Yes, you read that right—13! Twelve of these months have 30 days each, and the thirteenth month, called Pagumē, has five days in a common year and six days in a leap year. This quirky addition makes Ethiopians proud to say they live in a country with “thirteen months of sunshine.” This unique month is often celebrated with a festive spirit, as it rounds off the year with a concise and joyous interval.

Another interesting thing is that, while most of the world celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1st, Ethiopians celebrate their New Year, known as Enkutatash, on September 11th (or 12th in a leap year). This celebration, which is a vibrant mix of church services, traditional music, dance, and feasting, marks the end of the rainy season and the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia, symbolising renewal and hope.

There are many distinct celebrations scattered across the Ethiopian calendar. Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox Epiphany ceremony held on January 19, is one of the most important. During Timkat, vibrant processions and the reenactment of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River captivate both locals and tourists alike.

Adding to the uniqueness, Ethiopians also tell time differently. The day is divided into two 12-hour cycles, starting at 6 AM and 6 p.m. So, when it’s 7 AM Ethiopian time, it’s 1 o’clock in the morning, according to Ethiopian hours. This system, more closely tied to the natural day-night cycle, can be a delightful puzzle for visitors.

The Ethiopian calendar is more than just a different way of counting days; it’s a reflection of the country’s rich heritage and its resistance to colonial influences. It’s a symbol of national pride and cultural identity. For travellers, experiencing Ethiopia’s calendar is like stepping into a different era, offering a glimpse into a unique temporal world.

So, next time you wish to experience something truly different, consider diving into the rhythm of the Ethiopian calendar.

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