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Ethiopia is '7 years behind' the rest of the world. Why's that?

Unlike most countries in the world that are currently in the year 2022, Ethiopia is about 7-8 years behind. This is because Ethiopia uses its own calendar that's different from the Georgian calendar.

Ethiopian Flag

Lucky Number 13

The biggest difference between the Ethiopian and Georgian calendars is that there are 13 months in the Ethiopian calendar year. 12 of those months have 30 days & the 13th month, called Pagume, has five or six days in it, depending on whether it's a leap year.

Pagume comes from the Greek word 'epagomene' which means 'days forgotten' when a year is calculated.

A Different Time

Time is also counted differently in the country, with the day divided into two 12-hour slots starting from 06:00, which would make both midday & midnight 6 o'clock in Ethiopian time.

Time as a social construct

Although Ethiopia was occupied by Mussolini's Italy from 1935 to 1941, it was never colonised. That occupation was so short-lived that the Italians didn't have the time or means to enforce a lasting colonial administration.

So Ethiopia was never made to assimilate to the Georgian calendar - the way so much of the rest of the world was.

Sea Of Thoughts

Ethiopia's calendar reportedly takes inspiration from the idea that Adam & Eve lived in the Garden of Eden for 7 years before they were expelled for their sins & after repenting, the bible says that God promised to save them after 5,500 years.

Ethiopians call the method used to calculate the calendar Bahere Hasab, or 'sea of thoughts'.

Happy Birthday Jesus

Ethiopia calculates the birth year of Jesus Christ differently, claiming that Jesus was born in 7 BC, while other calendars held that he was born in AD 1.

When the Catholic Church amended its calculation in 500 AD, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church did not.

Did you know that the Ethiopian calendar is greatly intertwined with biblical anecdotes?

The first day of the week, for instance, is called Ehud, which translates as 'the first day' on which God started creating the heavens and the earth.

The four-year leap-year cycle is associated with the 4 evangelists of the Bible, starting with the John year, followed by the Matthew year, the Mark year & finally the Luke year.

A New-New Years

As one of the few countries in the world with its own calendar system, Ethiopia celebrates important holidays on days that are different from the rest of the world.

For instance, Ethiopia celebrates the New Year on September 11 (or September 12, if it is a leap year) & not on January 1.

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