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.
|Ethiopian Month||Equivalent Start Date in a non-leap year||Equivalent Start Date in a leap year|
|Meskerem||11th September||12th September|
|Tikemet||11th October||12th October|
|Hidar||10th November||11th November|
|Tahisas||10th December||11th December|
|Tir||9th January||10th January|
|Yekatit||8th February||9th February|
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 2006 in the UK will be 23rd Tahisas 1998 in Ethiopia. Furthermore, Ethiopia is approaching its year 2000 with various exciting millennium celebrations planned to mark this significant date.
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, 7.00am is 1.00am Ethiopian time.
Urban Ethiopians often use both systems as appropriate. Nevertheless, in general, when asking about dates and times, it is always worth checking which system is being used!