On September 11th, 2020, while the world may be going through its normal routine, Ethiopians however have just entered the year 2013 as they celebrate their New Year. Having a unique calendar which is seven to eight years behind the rest of the world, large celebrations are being held across the country to mark the New Year celebrations.
During the celebration, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopians were hopeful for a better year. This year’s celebrations come amid the coronavirus pandemic that has so far claimed nearly 1,000 lives in the country.
The last two year’s celebrations were very unique as they came on the back of the historic signing of a peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The leaders of both countries marked the day at their common border as they reopened the crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years. This followed two decades of hostilities between the two countries.
Ethiopia is 7 years behind in the world’s calenders because the country follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar, which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century. The world has adopted the Gregorian calendar, a calendar constituting 365 days in a year and 366 days in a leap year.
However, Ethiopia uses the Coptic Calendar, which puts it years behind the rest of the world. The difference in year numbering is believed to be because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church disagrees with the Roman Catholic Church about when Christ was born.
Thus, in contrast to the Gregorian calendar, which is factored in the calculation of the year in which Jesus was born, the Ethiopian Church adopted a calendar tied to the calculation of the Annunciation (Jesus’s conception, not birth) arrived at by Egyptian monk-historian Annianus of Alexandria.
A year in the Ethiopian calendar is 13 months long, with 12 months of 30 days each. The last month has five days in a common year and six days during a leap year.
As in the Julian calendar, a leap year in the Ethiopian calendar happens every four years without exception. While most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7 alongside many Orthodox Christian churches around the world.
We wish Ethiopians, The Horn of Africa a prosperous new year. Hopefully, this new year brings about better good tidings for the ancient country.
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