ethiopian calendar
Photo by aben tefra on Unsplash

Wanna feel younger? Move to Ethiopia.

Sure, dealing with different time zones around the world is a headache. But can you imagine dealing with completely different years?

As mind-boggling as it sounds, this is the case in Ethiopia. While the rest of the world is currently living in 2022, in Ethiopia the year is currently 2014.

And suddenly we have all become Robin Williams’ character from "Jumanji."


It’s actually all very simple.

Where most of us are used to the Gregorian calendar, marked with 12 months of 28-31 days, the Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months … sort of.


You see, each and every month has exactly 30 days, except for that bonus 13th month (called Pagumen), which has five days. Unless of course it’s a leap year. Then it has six.

That makes the Ethiopian calendar seven years and eight months behind the Western calendar, according to the BBC. Good luck buying the right airline ticket.

Not only is the Ethiopian calendar several days behind, but the entire concept of time is vastly different. Rather than 24 hours in a day, Ethiopian time uses a 12-hour day, from dawn to dusk, then dusk to dawn. Meaning 6 a.m. is noon, 6 p.m. is midnight. Up is down. And down is periwinkle. Is your head buzzing yet?

And now the real question: why?

Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini’s Italy, the oldest African country has never been colonized. And therefore, it calculates the birth of Christ differently. The BBC reports that when the Catholic Church amended its calculation in 500 AD, the Ethiopian Orthodox church didn't.

As such, Ethiopians (similar to several other cultures) don’t celebrate New Year's in December. Their holiday, called Enkutatash, takes place on September 11, or September 12 on leap years.

Whoa.

And while we’re on the subject, Enkutatash sounds like a pretty amazing shindig. Sure, there are gifts, children singing, all that. But the real point of attraction? The coffee ceremony. Which can last for hours. Heaven is a place on Earth. And it’s found in Ethiopia.

Of course, Ethiopia isn’t the only country that technically has a very different year. I mean, the Thailand calendar—based on Buddha, not Jesus—is all the way in 2565! After all, there are as many ways of measuring time as there cultures throughout history.

A recent video posted to TikTok brought the Ethiopian calendar to the forefront of people’s minds.

@the1kevine

♬ original sound - Umutoni Kabeza

To say that the now viral clip brought up some fun comments would be an understatement. Time might be a construct, but it’s also apparently a big conversation starter.

While coordinating schedules might be daunting, it’s cool to see that even though we are living on the same planet, we can still be living in very different worlds.

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