While most nations across the world were celebrating the dawn of the new year 2020 seven days ago, citizens of Ethiopia watched as it will take them seven to eight years to celebrate what the rest of the world was celebrating.
Perhaps you must be wondering why and how the East African country is behind the rest of the world based on the Gregorian calendar, despite its long history as recorded in the Bible.
The Ethiopian Eunuch who, according to the account of the book of Acts, gave his life to Christ after an encounter with Philip while riding in his chariot, and the Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon to present him gifts according to Psalm 72, are popular examples of Ethiopia’s history with the Christian faith where the Gregorian calendar system originated from.
While the rest of the world is already in 2020, Ethiopia will celebrate the dawn of a New Year on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar. By then the country will be in 2013 and not 2020.
According to The Africa Report, Ethiopia’s New Year (Enkutatash) means the “gift of jewels”. The Enkutatash tradition dates back to the time when the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem.
Her chiefs are believed to have welcomed her by showering her with gifts of jewels or inku. But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday.
How did they get here?
Although the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars both 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.
According to The Culture Trip, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes Jesus Christ was born in 7 BC, 5,500 years after God’s promise to Adam and Eve.
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.
Gregorian calendar was created in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, who made some changes to the previously used Julian calendar. Several countries that were under the dominion of the Catholic church had to accept the Gregorian calendar, which is named after the pope who first introduced it. The new calendar ordered countries to drop 11 days from their Julian calendar.
Difference between Ethiopian and Gregorian Calendars:
The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months in a year, 12 of which have 30 days. The last month, called Pagume, has five days, and six days in a leap year, while 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 honour in the Julian Calendar, such as July and August, which were named after Julius Caesar and Augustus and have 31 days each.
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, this 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.