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The Ethiopian calendar (Amharic : የኢትዮጵያ ዘመን አቆጣጠር; yä'Ityoṗṗya zëmän aḳoṭaṭär) or Eritrean calendar is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical year for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and P'ent'ay (Ethiopian-Eritrean Evangelical) Churches (most Protestants in the diaspora have the option of choosing the Ethiopian calendar or the Gregorian calendar for religious holidays, with this option being used when the corresponding eastern celebration is not a public holiday in the western world). The Ethiopian calendar is a solar calendar which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar. A gap of seven to eight years between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from an alternative calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation.
Like the Coptic calendar, the Ethiopic calendar has twelve months of thirty days plus five or six epagomenal days, which comprise a thirteenth month. The Ethiopian months begin on the same days as those of the Coptic calendar, but their names are in Ge'ez. A sixth epagomenal day is added every four years, without exception, on August 29 of the Julian calendar, six months before the corresponding Julian leap day. Thus the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Mäskäräm, for years between 1900 and 2099 (inclusive), is usually September 11 (Gregorian). However, it falls on September 12 in years before the Gregorian leap year.
Enkutatash is the word for the Ethiopian New Year in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, while it is called Ri'se Awde Amet ("Head Anniversary") in Ge'ez, the term preferred by the Ethiopian & Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches. It occurs on September 11th in the Gregorian Calendar; except for the year preceding a leap year, when it occurs on September 12th. The Ethiopian Calendar Year 1998 Amätä Məhrät ("Year of Mercy") began on the Gregorian Calendar Year on September 11th, 2005. However, the Ethiopian Years 1992 and 1996 began on the Gregorian Dates of 'September 12th 1999' and '2003' respectively.
This date correspondence applies for the Gregorian years 1900 to 2099. The Ethiopian leap year is every four without exception, while Gregorian centurial years are only leap years when exactly divisible by 400; thus a set of corresponding dates will most often apply for a single century. As the Gregorian year 2000 is a leap year, the current correspondence lasts two centuries instead.
The start of the Ethiopian year (Feast of El-Nayrouz) falls on August 29th or 30th (in the year just before the Julian leap year). This date corresponds to the Old-Style Julian Calendar; therefore, the start of the year has been transferred forward in the currently used Gregorian Calendar to September 11th or 12th (in the year just before the Julian leap year). This deviation between the Julian and the Gregorian Calendar will increase with the passing of the time. One may observe the real start date in future centuries in a Gregorian to Ethiopian Date Converter.
|East Syriac Rite|
To indicate the year, Ethiopians and followers of the Eritrean churches today use the Incarnation Era, which dates from the Annunciation or Incarnation of Jesus on March 25, AD 9 (Julian), as calculated by Annianus of Alexandria c. 400; thus its first civil year began seven months earlier on August 29, AD 8. Meanwhile, Europeans eventually adopted the calculations made by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525 instead, which placed the Annunciation eight years earlier than had Annianus. This causes the Ethiopian year number to be eight years less than the Gregorian year number from January 1 until September 10 or 11, then seven years less for the remainder of the Gregorian year.
In the past, a number of other eras for numbering years were also widely used in Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Aksum.
The most important era – once widely used by the Eastern Christianity, and still used by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria – was the Era of Martyrs, also known as the Diocletian Era, or the era of Diocletian and the Martyrs, whose first year began on August 29, 284.
Respective to the Gregorian and Julian New Year's Days, 31⁄2 to 4 months later, the difference between the Era of Martyrs and the Anni Domini is 285 years (285= 15×19). This is because in AD 525, Dionysius Exiguus decided to add 15 Metonic cycles to the existing 13 Metonic cycles of the Diocletian Era (15×19 + 13×19 = 532) to obtain an entire 532 year medieval Easter cycle, whose first cycle ended with the year Era of Martyrs 247 (= 13×19) equal to year DXXXI. It is also because 532 is the product of the Metonic cycle of 19 years and the solar cycle of 28 years.
Around AD 400, an Alexandrine monk called Panodoros fixed the Alexandrian Era (Anno Mundi = in the year of the world), the date of creation, on 29 August 5493 BC. After the 6th century AD, the era was used by Egyptian and Ethiopian chronologists. The twelfth 532 year-cycle of this era began on 29 August AD 360, and so 4×19 years after the Era of Martyrs.
Bishop Anianos preferred the Annunciation style as New Year's Day, 25 March (see above). Thus he shifted the Panodoros era by about six months, to begin on 25 March 5492 BC. In the Ethiopian calendar this was equivalent to 15 Magabit 5501 B.C. (E.C.). The Anno Mundi era remained in usage until the late 19th century.
The four-year leap-year cycle is associated with the four Evangelists: the first year after an Ethiopian leap year is named the John-year, followed by the Matthew-year, and then the Mark-year. The year with the sixth epagomenal day is traditionally designated as the Luke-year.
There are no exceptions to the four-year leap-year cycle, like the Julian calendar but unlike the Gregorian calendar.
| Ge'ez, Tigrinya, and Amharic language |
(with Amharic suffixes in parentheses)
|Coptic|| Julian |
| Gregorian |
[From March 1900 to February 2100]
|Gregorian Start Date|
in Year after Ethiopian Leap Day
|Mäskäräm (መስከረም)||Tut (Thout)||August 29||September 11||September 12|
|Ṭəqəmt(i) (ጥቅምት)||Babah (Paopi)||September 28||October 11||October 12|
|Ḫədar (ኅዳር)||Hatur (Hathor)||October 28||November 10||November 11|
|Taḫśaś ( ታኅሣሥ)||Kiyahk (Koiak)||November 27||December 10||December 11|
|Ṭərr(i) (ጥር)||Tubah (Tobi)||December 27||January 9||January 10|
|Yäkatit (Tn. Läkatit) (የካቲት)||Amshir (Meshir)||January 26||February 8||February 9|
|Mägabit (መጋቢት)||Baramhat (Paremhat)||February 25||March 10||March 10|
|Miyazya (ሚያዝያ)||Baramundah (Parmouti)||March 27||April 9||April 9|
|Gənbo (t) (ግንቦት)||Bashans (Pashons)||April 26||May 9||May 9|
|Säne (ሰኔ)||Ba'unah (Paoni)||May 26||June 8||June 8|
|Ḥamle (ሐምሌ)||Abib (Epip)||June 25||July 8||July 8|
|Nähase (ነሐሴ)||Misra (Mesori)||July 25||August 7||August 7|
|Ṗagʷəmen/Ṗagume (ጳጐሜን/ጳጉሜ)||Nasi (Pi Kogi Enavot)||August 24||September 6||September 6|
These dates are valid only from March 1900 to February 2100. This is because 1900 and 2100 are not leap years in the Gregorian calendar, while they are still leap years in the Ethiopian calendar, meaning dates before 1900 and after 2100 will be offset.
The terms anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini is Medieval Latin and means "in the year of the Lord", but is often presented using "our Lord" instead of "the Lord", taken from the full original phrase "anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi", which translates to "in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ".
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who also carries the title of Coptic Pope. The See of Alexandria is titular, and today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy, prayer and devotional patrimony. With 18–22 million members worldwide, whereof about 15 to 20 million are in Egypt, it is the country's largest Christian church.
Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.
The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 708 Ab urbe condita (46 BC), was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 709 AUC (45 BC), by edict. It was designed with the aid of Greek mathematicians and Greek astronomers such as Sosigenes of Alexandria.
The Revised Julian calendar, also known as the Milanković calendar, or, less formally, new calendar, is a calendar proposed by the Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković in 1923, which effectively discontinued the 340 years of divergence between the naming of dates sanctioned by those Eastern Orthodox churches adopting it and the Gregorian calendar that has come to predominate worldwide. This calendar was intended to replace the ecclesiastical calendar based on the Julian calendar hitherto in use by all of the Eastern Orthodox Church. From 1 March 1600 through 28 February 2800, the Revised Julian calendar aligns its dates with the Gregorian calendar, which was proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII for adoption by the Christian world. The calendar has been adopted by the Orthodox churches of Constantinople, Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, and Romania.
The Coptic calendar, also called the Alexandrian calendar, is a liturgical calendar used by the Coptic Orthodox Church and also used by the farming populace in Egypt. This calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar. To avoid the calendar creep of the latter, a reform of the ancient Egyptian calendar was introduced at the time of Ptolemy III which consisted of the intercalation of a sixth epagomenal day every fourth year. However, this reform was opposed by the Egyptian priests, and the reform was not adopted until 25 BC, when the Roman Emperor Augustus imposed the Decree upon Egypt as its official calendar. To distinguish it from the Ancient Egyptian calendar, which remained in use by some astronomers until medieval times, this reformed calendar is known as the Coptic calendar. Its years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar but have different numbers and names.
The computus is a calculation that determines the calendar date of Easter. Because the date is based on an ecclesiastical or paschal "equinox" date rather than the actual astronomical equinox, there are differences between calculations done according to the Julian calendar and the modern Gregorian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was considered the most important computation of the age.
The epact used to be described by medieval computists as the age of the Moon in days on 22 March; in the newer Gregorian calendar, however, the epact is reckoned as the age of the ecclesiastical moon on 1 January. Its principal use is in determining the date of Easter by computistical methods. It varies from year to year, because of the difference between the solar year of 365–366 days and the lunar year of 354–355 days.
A calendar era is the period of time elapsed since one epoch of a calendar and, if it exists, before the next one. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era.
Annianus of Alexandria was a monk who flourished in Alexandria during the bishopric of Theophilus of Alexandria around the beginning of the fifth century. He criticized the world history of his contemporary monk Panodorus of Alexandria for relying too much on secular sources rather than biblical sources for his dates.
The Era of the Martyrs, also known as the Diocletian era, is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century AD and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not use it. It was named for the Roman Emperor Diocletian who instigated the last major persecution against Christians in the Empire. Diocletian began his reign 20 November 284 during the Alexandrian year that began on 1 Thoth, the Egyptian New Year, or 29 August 284, so that date was used as the epoch: year one of the Diocletian era began on that date. This era was used to number the year in Easter tables produced by the Church of Alexandria.
Mesori is the twelfth month of the ancient Egyptian and Coptic calendars. It is identical to Nahase in the Ethiopian calendar.
The intercalary month or epagomenal days of the ancient Egyptian, Coptic, and Ethiopian calendars are a period of five days in common years and six days in leap years in addition to those calendars' 12 standard months, sometimes reckoned as their thirteenth month. They originated as a periodic measure to ensure that the heliacal rising of Sirius would occur in the 12th month of the Egyptian lunar calendar but became a regular feature of the civil calendar and its descendants. Coptic and Ethiopian leap days occur in the year preceding Gregorian leap years.
Enkutatash is the first day of the New Year in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It occurs on Meskerem 1 on the Ethiopian calendar, which is 11 September according to the Gregorian calendar.
Nayrouz or Neyrouz is a feast when martyrs and confessors are commemorated within the Coptic Orthodox Church. Celebrated on September 11, the day is both the start of the Coptic new year and its first month, Thout.
Orthodox Tewahedo is the common and historical name of two Oriental Orthodox churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea. These are the predominant Orthodox Christian denominations in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The adoption of the Gregorian Calendar was an event in the modern history of most nations and societies, marking a change from their traditional dating system to the modern dating system that is widely used around the world today. Some countries adopted the new calendar from 1582, some did not do so before the early twentieth century, and others did so at various dates between; however a number continue to use a different civil calendar. For many the new style calendar is only used for civil purposes and the old style calendar remains used in religious contexts. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world's most widely used civil calendar. During – and for some time after – the change between systems, it has been common to use the terms Old Style and New Style when giving dates, to indicate which calendar was used to reckon them.
The Kidane Mehret Church in Jerusalem is part of the Debre Genet monastery, whose name means "Monastery of Paradise".
Fasting and abstinence have historically constituted a major element of the practice of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, following the counsel of Saint Paul to "chastise the body and bring it under subjection" per 1 Corinthians 9:27. It is generally agreed, and asserted by the Church itself, that the fasting regime of the Ethiopian Church is the strictest of any Church, with 180 mandatory fasting days for laymen and up to 252 days for clergy and the particularly observant. The general list of fasts are laid out in the Fetha Negest.
Church of Madhane Alam in Majate, 1892–1893, known from the endnote on fol. 95r, which gives a record in Amharic of a land grant to the church of Mǝğäte Mädḫane ‛Aläm, enacted in the Year of Matthew, 7385 Anno Mundi (= 1885 EC = 1892–1893 AD)