African Culture

Ethiopian calendar shows they are seven years behind the rest of the world.

The Ethiopian calendarEthiopian calendar
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I know you have been wondering why Is the Ethiopian Calendar 7 Years Behind?

The Ethiopian calendar
Ethiopian calendar

Ethiopia, a country free of any colonial powers and influences of the Roman church, was not affected by the tides, and easily retained its original calendar, which claims that Jesus was born in 7 BC, and started counting days from that year on.

Traveling to Ethiopia is like taking a trip back in time. When you first set foot in the country, you can’t help but notice that Ethiopia has a calendar that is seven to eight years behind the rest of the world. The Ethiopian calendar is quite similar to the Julian calendar, which was the predecessor to the Gregorian calendar most countries use today. From the naming of the weekdays to that of the 12 months of the year, it is much intertwined with biblical anecdotes.

It is a solar calendar, based on the time it takes the earth to make one full orbit around the Sun, also known as a tropical year or solar year. Same Historical Roots
The Ethiopian calendar is based on the same astronomical calculations that lie behind today’s Gregorian calendar and its predecessor, the Julian calendar.

The first day of the week, called Ehud, translates as ‘the first day ‘in the ancient Ge’ez language, the liturgical language of the Ethiopian church. It is meant to show that Ehud is the first day God started creating the heavens and the earth.

Owing to its complexity, Ethiopians call the method used to calculate the calendar Bahere Hasab, or ‘sea of thoughts.’ The calendar system starts with the idea that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden for seven years before they were expelled for their sins. After they repented, the Bible says that God promised to save them after 5,500 years.

A year in the Ethiopian calendar is 13 months long, with 12 months of 30 days each. The last month has five days in an ordinary year, and six days during a leap year, Pagume, the 13th month in the Ethiopian calendar, comes from the Greek word epagomene, which means ‘days forgotten when a year is calculated.’ This month has five days or six days in a leap year.



In the Julian calendar, a leap year in the Ethiopian calendar happens every four years without exception. The Ethiopian Calendar’s four-year leap-year cycle is associated with the four evangelists of the Bible. The first year after an Ethiopian leap year is named the John year and is followed by the Matthew year and then the Mark year. The year with the 6th epagomenal day is traditionally designated as the Luke year. In contrast, the Gregorian calendar has days that can be less or more than 30 days in a month. Some differences were the result of kings adding extra days on the months bearing their names in their honor in the Julian Calendar, such as July and August, which were named after Julius Caesar and Augustus and had 31 days each.

Same Historical Roots, the Ethiopian calendar is based on the same astronomical calculations that lie behind today’s Gregorian calendar and its predecessor, the Julian calendar.

The Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars use the birthdate of Jesus Christ as a starting point for their calculations. The difference between the two calendars is because alternate calculations are used in determining this date. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes Jesus Christ was born in 7 BC, 5,500 years after God’s promise to Adam and Eve. The birth of the Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar was created in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, who made some changes to the previously used Julian calendar. The calculation of the date of the birth of Jesus means that the Ethiopian calendar is 7 to 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar. While most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7, along with many Orthodox Christian churches around the world.

Several countries under the dominion of the Catholic church had to accept the Gregorian calendar, which was named after the pope who first introduced it. At the time, many countries opposed the new system, which ordered them to drop 11 days from their Julian calendar. London residents took to the streets to protest the new schedule, holding banners that demanded, ‘give us back our 11 days’. The country refused to accept the Gregorian calendar until 1752; the Soviet Union was also a holdout until 1918. It approved the new calendar under the influence of its communist leaders, while Greece refused to switch until 1923.


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Francis Chidera
the authorFrancis Chidera
Popularly known as Chokolate is a content creator. A lover of simplified words making it easy to get to a wider audience. It pains to see that Africans are forgetting and neglecting who they are, hence, I am passionate about reminding us of our culture. I work with 54history on the African culture category, to achieve this aim.

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