It is 2003 in Ethiopia today! 

image from

The Ethiopian New Year falls at the end of the big rains.
This little girl is holding a bouquet of Meskel daisies – these often cover the highlands at this time of year!
I am privileged to have so many good friends in Ethiopia! The past few days I have received New Years cards and sundry emails expressing the joy of beginning a new year, and I hear about many celebrations that are taking place.

As you may already know, Ethiopia traditionally follows the Coptic, or Julian, calendar. Most of us reading this blog are used to the Gregorian, or Western, calendar and we puzzle …. “It is just 2003 in Ethiopia?” Yes, because there is a seven year difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

There is a difference in months, too. In Ethiopia, there are 13 months which is why their Department of Tourism accurately boasts of thirteen months of sunshine! The thirteenth month only has 5 or 6 days in it (depending on if it is Leap Year of not). I find it difficult, if not impossible, to translate the Julian calendar to “our” calendar dates, and I have much grace with my hard working Ethiopian friends when they attempt to do so and I find they have made a calculation error.

Also, in Ethiopia the 24-hour day begins at sunrise, not midnight. Thus, their time is six hours ahead of ours. If a store opens at 10 a.m., they will tell you it opens at 4 o’clock. Clocks can really throw me off kilter. I think it is accurate to say that Ethiopia marches to a different drum beat than the rest of the world!

However, I find beauty in differences. It is amazing to find myself immersed in a culture that is ancient and has not been altered by Western influences. It can also be frustrating, but more and more I appreciate the complexities of Ethiopia’s culture. Embracing cultural differences brings me face to face with God who is faithful to all who fear Him, no matter what month it is, what year it is, or what time it is.

Melkam Addis Amet = Happy New Year!!
from Joy Casey