Ethiopian calendar and time

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When visiting Ethiopia, it is important you get familiar with their different calendar and time. Or you may end up miss an important event or even a date!

The Ethiopian year consists of thirteen months; twelve of 30 days each and an additional month of five or six days, depending on whether it is a leap year. The first month of the Ethiopian year is September (or Meskerem) and New Year's Day takes place on what is the 11th September in the Western calendar.


The difference with the West dates back to 1582 when the Christian world adopted the revised Gregorian calendar and Ethiopia stayed with the Julian calendar.

As a result, Ethiopia is either seven or eight years behind the Gregorian calendar, depending on whether the date is before or after 1st January. So, the 1st January 2012 in the west or elsewhere will be 23rd Tahisas 2004 in Ethiopia.




Ethiopia is in the +3 hrs GMT time zone. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that in addition to this Ethiopia also has its own time. This is based on the conception that the Ethiopian day is constituted of roughly 12 hours of daylight, starting at 6.00am and roughly 12 hours of darkness, starting at 6.00pm.  So time in Ethiopia is measured every twelve hour. Urban Ethiopians often use both systems as appropriate.  In general, when asking about dates and times or arranging an appointment it is always worth and this is important indeed, checking which system is being used!


If for example at 12:00 you are told to meet up with someone at one o'clock it is usually mean this gonna be 7:00 PM or 19:00h. Not an hour later!


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