TESFA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives)

Experience the Real Ethiopia
Ethiopian Millennium CalendarA monk reads a text in ancient Ge'ez at a monastery on Lake Tana.The rockhewn churches of Lalibela, excavated during the Zagwe dynasty in the heart of Wollo in the 12th Century.Sunset from Mequat Mariam - Wollo.Highland farmer threshing wheat and barley with oxen, as has been done for millenia.Sunset in the Ethiopian Rift Valley - 'the cradle of mankind'.Bet Mariam, Lalibela, veiled pillar, reputedly with the Ten Commandments in Greek & Ge'ez, the story of how the churches were excavated, and the story of the beginning and end of the world.

The Ethiopian Millennium

Ethiopia has its own unique calendar which is seven years and nine months and 10 days behind the calendar that is used in most of the rest of the world.

The Calendar used in Europe and most of the rest of the world is a 12 month calendar, which counts the years since the birth of Christ. It is known as the Gregorian Calendar (GC) named after Pope Gregory XIII and replaced the previous Julian Calendar (JC) introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar in in order to correct a small gain in time. The major difference with these calendars is that in the JC the leap year is every 4 years, while in the GC the leap year comes every 4 years except for 3 century years in 400 years (thus future days omitted will be the century years (specifically: 29 February 2100, 2200, 2300; 2500, 2600, 2700; 2900, etc.).

The Ethiopian calendar or Ethiopic calendar is the calendar used in Ethiopia. It is often called the Julian Calendar, but this is incorrect. Properly it has 12 months of 30 days with 5 or 6 'epagomenal days' at the end of the year, which gives rise to the common description of it as a 13th month. The 13th month is known locally as 'Pagumay'. It is based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which also has twelve months of 30 days each plus five or six epagomenal days and is based on the even older Egyptian calendar. Like the JC, the Ethiopian Calendar adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar.

Furthermore, its months begin on the same days as those of the Coptic calendar, but they have different names, that are in Ge'ez. The sixth epagomenal day is added every four years without exception on August 29 in the JC, six months before the Julian leap day. Thus the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Meskerem, for years between 1901 and 2099 (inclusive), is usually 11th September (GC), but falls on 12th September (GC), in years before the Gregorian leap year.

The 3rd Millennium for the ancient Ethiopian Calendar begins on 12th September 2007 (GC). This is a far more ancient millenium than the GC millenium celebrated around the world amidst fears of computer crashes and social catastrophe (YK2), and can be celebrated in a land whose history stretches back to pharonic times, and whose origins are shrouded in mists of time.

Ethiopian Millennium Calendar

To celebrate this Millennium and help non-Ethiopians to understand the unique Ethiopian Calendar TESFA has produced a stunning and facinating calendar which shows the Ethiopian dates, festivals and holidays on top of the Gregorian dates that we all use.

For the first time anyone will be able to see when the church is celebrating its saints' days and when the other festivals are that are generally unknown to the outside world, such as Sebarea Tsemu Giyorgis, a festival in late January (2008) that commemorates the day that St Georges bones where ground to dust! This is a colourful day at any St Georges (Giyorgis) church.

This calendar runs from Sept 2007 until Aug 2008, which approximately conforms to the Ethiopian Millennium year.

TESFA will be sending copies of this unique calendar to anyone who makes a donation - see details on donations page.