The majority of the countries in the world use the calender which is known as the Gregorian calendar, this calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in October 1582 by as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian calendar. The Gregoran calendar is a solar calendar which is based on a 365-day common year divided into 12 months of irregular lengths. 11 of the months have either 30 or 31 days, while the second month, February, has only 28 days during the common year and 29 in a leap year.
There is a total of four countries that have not adopted the Gregorian calendar: Afghanistan and Iran (which use the Solar Hijri calendar), Nepal (Vikram Samvat and Nepal Sambat) and Ethiopia (the Ethiopian calendar). This article takes a look at what the Ethiopian calendar is all about and how it works.
You may be wondering how Ethiopia managed to retain its original calendar, well, the reason is that Ethiopia is the only African country free of any colonial powers and influences of the Roman church, so the country just decided to stick with their origianl calendar. If you travel to Ethiopia today, it will feel like you are taking a trip back in time and the reason is that you will notice that Ethiopia has a calendar which is seven to eight years behind the rest of the world. What makes it that way is the fact that the Ethiopian calendar claims that Jesus was born in 7 BC, and started counting days from that year on.
The structure of the Ethiopian calendar
Ethiopian calendar is based on the Coptic calendar and has 13 months in a year, 12 of which have 30 days. The last month, called Pagume, has five days, and six days in a leap year. The Ethiopian Calendar’s four-year leap-year cycle is associated with the four evangelists of the Bible. The first year after an Ethiopian leap year is named the John year, and is followed by the Matthew year and then the Mark year. The year with the 6th epagomenal day is traditionally designated as the Luke year.
What makes the Ethiopian calendar different from the Gregorian calendar is the the Gregorian calendar has days that can be less or more than 30 days in a month and some of these differences are as a result of kings adding extra days on the months bearing their names in their honour in the Julian Calendar, such as July and August, which were named after Julius Caesar and Augustus and have 31 days each.
According to the Ethiopian calendar, a year has 365 days, six hours, two minutes and 24 seconds. Once every four years, the six hours add up to 24 hours and become the sixth day in a leap year. Once in 600 years, the two minutes and 24 seconds add up to a full day and form a seventh day, which the Ethiopians call rena mealt and rena lelit. Below are the 13 months on the Ethiopian Calendar and comparing them to the Gregorian calendar;
1st Month/1st Day in Ethiopia is September 11 – October 10 (Year Begins Sept. 12/leap years), 9th Month in Gregorian
2nd Month in Ethiopia is October 11 – November 9, 10th Month in Gregorian
3rd Month in Ethiopia is November 10 – December 9, 11th Month in Gregorian
4th Month in Ethiopia is December 10 – January 8, 12th Month in Gregorian
5th Month in Ethiopia is January 9 – February 7, 1st Month in Gregorian
6th Month in Ethiopia is February 8 – March 9, 2nd Month in Gregorian
7th Month in Ethiopia is March 10 – April 8, 3rd Month in Gregorian
8th Month in Ethiopia is April 9 – May 8, 4th Month in Gregorian
9th Month in Ethiopia is May 9 – June 7, 5th Month in Gregorian
10th Month in Ethiopia is June 8 – July 7, 6th Month in Gregorian
11th Month in Ethiopia is July 8 – August 6, 7th Month in Gregorian
12th Month in Ethiopia is August 7 – September 5, 8th Month in Gregorian
13th Month in Ethiopia is September 6 – September 10 (Year Ends Sept. 11/leap years)