Calendopaedia - The Ethiopian Calendar

The Ethiopian calendar has a year of 365 days and leap years of 366 days. The Ethiopian year is divided into 12 months of thirty days each and one intercalary month of 5 days, or 6 days in a leap year.

The Ethiopian Calendar is similar to the Julian calendar in that it has a leap year every four years and does not miss one at the turn of the century. However it is not true to say that Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar. In fact their calendar owes more to the old Coptic Calendar.

The relationship between the Ethiopian and the Gregorian calendars varies when ever the Gregorian Calendar misses a leap year. The present situation (that is between 1900 and 2099 Gregorian) is that the year starts on 11th September (Gregorian) and from then until 31st December the year number is seven less than the Gregorian year number. From 1st January to 10th September the difference is eight. This means that the Ethiopians celebrated the dawning of the millennium (AD2000) at midnight on 10th September 2007 (Gregorian). The difference in year numbering is due to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church disagreeing with the Roman Catholic Church about when Christ was born. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church believe that Christ was born exactly 5,500 years after the creation of the world which they then equate to 7BC. Some experts believe that they are probably nearer the true date than the Gregorian calendar.

The month names and their relationship to Gregorian months is as follows :-

Time is also calculated differently in Ethiopia as hours are counted from dawn. Due to the closeness of the equator this is usually 6am in the European way of reckoning. Thus 9am is 3 o'clock, noon is 6 o'clock and the sun sets around 12 o'clock.

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