Ethiopia calendar behind the rest of the world, and 3 tips

Today Ethiopian Calendar -

Ethiopia calendar has been a topic of discussion lately among tourists and foreigners. If you have been to Ethiopia, you already know the country has its own calendar and timing system. This system is seldom confusing for newcomers as it creates a mix-up on which calendar or time system the locals are using. I have heard stories of missed meetings and schedules due to the mixup of time and date between the locals and foreigners. Many investors, visitors and tourists get used to the whole mess after a while. They even prefer using the local timing and Ethiopia calendar while they are in the country. For beginners, the new year in Ethiopia doesn’t begin in January, it rather begins in September where the winter ends and the summer begins in the country.

The Ethiopia calendar amazingly has more in common with the Coptic calendar, which has 13 months, and 30 days in each month. This means there is not 28 days or 31 days in a month. Every month has 30 days. And the 13th month is a leap year. The leap year becomes 5 and 6 interchangeably every other year, making 365 or 366 days of the year.

The Ethiopia calendar uses a different calendar, that is different from the Gregorian calendar. They use the incarnation era, that uses the annunciation of the birth of Christ that is 9 AD in the Julian calendar. The western system of annunciation calculates it as 8 years earlier. That is the Coptic calendar.

Related: What time is it in Ethiopia and other tips that save your frustration

The Coptic and Gregorian calendars are not the only calendars in the world. Here are other at least five known calendars with their own systems. These are the Hebrew calendar, the Balinese Pawukon, the Persian calendar, the Islamic calendar, and the Chinese calendar.

There is 8 years gap between the Ethiopia(Coptic) calendar and the Gregorian calendar.

How to convert the Gregorian calendar to Ethiopia calendar

It is not that hard to convert the Ethiopia calendar to Gregorian. Most Ethiopias communicate with foreigners using the Gregorian calendar just to avoid confusion. They even indicate which calendar or which timing system they are using. If you need to convert the gregorian calendar to the Ethiopian calendar use this page.

What are important dates in the Ethiopia calendar for tourists

There are a few dates that help you decide on your tour. These dates are one of the most active, which will help you see the social dimension of Ethiopia. These dates are listed as follows

1- The Ethiopia new year

The Ethiopia new year or Enkutatash falls on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar. This day is September 1(Meskerem 1) in the Ethiopia calendar. You will know the Ethiopian new year is closer when you hear the boys go from house to house handing drawings and singing on doors in exchange for threats or money. In the next week, the girls do the same, but the tone and the atmosphere would become serious and everyone would be prepared to accept the new year.

The overall preparation includes cleaning houses, buying new clothes for children, buying books and notebooks for students who will start school in 15 days or less. Families celebrate the day at home, killing a cattle or hen and making Doro wot or Sega wot and eating together with relatives and neighbors.

2- Ethiopia Christmas- Genna- January 7

The Ethiopia Genna celebrates the coming of Christ. On January 7, all Christian religious followers gather in their congregations to celebrate the day together. The day usually begins at religious places. After long church programs, the people return to their homes to pass the day with their families.

The day involves eating chicken stew made with a local method and drinking coffee.


3- Meskel

Meskel attracts many visitors into the country. By the end of September, the rain is almost gone and the land is full of sunflowers, which usually indicates the new year. Meskel, that is the discovery of the true cross,  is celebrated at a place called Meskel square, in the center of Addis Ababa. The participants celebrate clothed in white, chanting and singing together and burning a huge bonfire.

4- Timkat – Ethiopia Epiphany (January 19th or 20th)

Timket celebrates the baptism of Christ. This ceremony is much famous among the orthodox Christians. The day may differ based on the leap year. The celebration begins a day before with a celebration called ketera. Tobot or replica of tablets of the law came out each church carried on the heads of the priests. It stays near water overnight. The crowd chants sing and play on drums on the way there. The Timket is much celebrated in Lalibela, Gondar and Addis Ababa. These are the best places to be on this date. Jan Meda is a famous celebration place on this day in Addis Ababa. The overall religious ceremony, the horse people, the baptism make the day attractive.

Related post: Ethiopian traveling on a budget. How much does it cost?

National Holidays in Ethiopia

The national holidays and celebrations in Ethiopia have a different date than the rest of the world.  The Ethiopia Christmas is celebrated on December 29 every year, not on January 7. The Ethiopia Christian holidays are much influenced by Orthodox Christianity in the country. The Islamic celebrations, however, have a similar date with the rest of the world calendar.

Western Calendar Ethiopia calendar Ethiopia public holiday Ethiopia holiday name
January 7 December 29   Ethiopia Christmas Genna
January 19 January 11   Ethiopia Epiphany Timkat
March 2 February 23   The victory of Adwa Day  
March 13   Id Al Fetir   
April 17   Id Al Adha   
April 25   Ethiopia Good Friday  
April 27   Ethiopia Easter Fasika
July 17   Moulid  
September 11 September 1   Ethiopia New Year Enqutatash
September 27 September 17   Finding of the True Cross Meskel

What Year Is It in Ethiopia Calendar Right Now?

Ethiopia has the Ethiopia calendar that has been influenced by the country Christianity. The Ethiopia calendar year is 8 years behind the rest of the world. If you are in 2020, the Ethiopia calendar is in 2012 or 2013. Since the Ethiopia calendar begins in September, and the gregorian begins in January 2020 in the Gregorian calendar is 2012 up to Nehase or August. Since the new year begins in September in Ethiopia, the next year from September to the end of December, the same Gregorian calendar of 2020, is 2013 in the Ethiopia calendar.  

Ethiopia Month Gregorian Month
Meskerem (the year begins year) September
Tikimt October
Hidar November
Tahsas December
Tir January (the year begins here)
Yakatit February
Magabit March
Miyazya April
Ginbot May
Sene June
Hamle July
Nehasae August
Pa’gumne (leap year, 5 or 6 days every other year)  

Why does Ethiopia have 13 months?

Unlike the gregorian calendar that has various days in months, the Ethiopia calendar has consistent 30 days in a month. Then, the rest of the five days will make the 13th month.

Which country has 13 months in a year?

When the rest of the world adopted the Gregorian calendar, that as 365 days in a year and 366 days in a leap year, Ethiopia could be the only country that accepted the Coptic calendar that has 13 months.

Related: What time is it in Ethiopia and other tips that save your frustration

What is Ethiopia’s 13th  month called?

The Ethiopia 13th month is called pagumiene. It doesn’t have an English equivalence to it. The pagumiene is usually between September 6 to September 10 in the gregorian calendar. The 13th month is a few days before the Ethiopia new year, which is September 11 in gregorian and September 1 in Ethiopia.

The 13th month is also the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the new summer. This is the month of preparation for the new year.

Ethiopia calendar

Which countries don’t use the Gregorian calendar?

Many countries in the world use the gregorian calendar as an only calendar except few countries. Afganistan and Iran use the solar Hijri calendar, Ethiopia uses the Ethiopia calendar and Nepal uses the Vikram Samvat.

Related: What time is it in Ethiopia and other tips that save your frustration

Countries such as India, Bangladesh, and Israel use the gregorian calendar with their own calendar. The Isreal has a Hebrew calendar, India has an Indian national calendar and Bangladesh has Bangla calendar.

Amazingly countries like Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and Korea use a modified version of Gregorian cleaner.

Ethiopia calendar 2020 ( Ethiopia calendar 2020 in Amharic )


Ethiopia calendar download

There are various Ethiopia calendar apps on google play. Here are the few that come on top.

Ethiopia Calendar (ቀን መቁጠሪያ) 

This app has more than 2500 users in 2020. It is minimal and simple to use. It has past and future events tracking support. The Ethiopia and calendar Ethiopia calendar together displayed in a single calendar makes it easy ouse. The marks on each event in a month, that is visible on a single view is efficient. The app has 4.5 out of 5. It doesn’t have Ads by 2020.

Ethiopian calendar app

Ethiopia Calendar 2 – ቀን መቁጠሪያ

This app has more than 1000 users. The app contains ads. But it has a 4.7 rating out of five. It has similar features as the first Ethiopia calendar app.

Ethiopia calendar

Ethiopia calendar 3

This calendar has a bit less than 2000 uses. This third Ethiopia calendar app does not have Ads. The explanation pages and the event page is a plus. Besides, it has a similar feature to others.

Ethiopia calendar app

Final words

The Ethiopia calendar follows the Coptic calendar and this makes it different from the rest of the world. Ethiopia also uses the Gregorian calendar as an alternative calendar, especially in communication with foreigners. Since English is also a working language in the country, the overall communications should be easy for foreigners.

The leap year came from the collection dates from each month, as the Ethiopia months have only 30 days. The 13th month has 5 or 6 days every other year.

However, it is always good to confirm if the time and date of your schedule is in local time or if the calendar is Ethiopia or Gregorian. This will avoid confusion.

It is also good to communicate in the Gregorian calendar in Ethiopia, and you can add which calender you are quoting, just to make sure.

The celebrations such as the new year and Christmas differ from the gregorian calendar. This means you may have tow prepare for two holidays.

You need to adjust your visiting time based on the local event.

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