Traveling to Ethiopia has often been compared to stepping back in time. As a third-world country with limited access to modern technology and developments, there is a distinct old-world feel to the country. Not only does Ethiopia feel like a different era, it is literally in a different time period, as Ethiopia follows their own unique calendar. While it is 2016 in the rest of the world, Ethiopia just rang in the year of 2009 on September 11th. In Ethiopia, the date is Meskerem 1.

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The Ethiopian New Year is referred to as Enkutatash, which means “gift of jewels.” The New Year not only marks the start of the new calendar year, it also represents the end of the rainy season and a transition to good harvest weather. It is a time of hope and joy in the country. After months of torrential rains, the sky clears and the countryside is particularly beautiful. The children enjoy picking fresh daisies and handing out bouquets in the streets. It is common to attend a church service followed by a family meal of Injera. The children enjoy singing and painting pictures, while the adults socialize.

In addition to the fact that it is 7 years earlier in Ethiopia, there are also 13 months in the Ethiopian year instead of 12. Each month is 30 days in length except for the 13th month, Pagumen, which has 5 days (6 during a leap year). Ethiopia also has a different method for marking time. Instead of a 24-hour clock, they use a 12-hour cycle, with one cycle from dawn to dusk and another from dusk to dawn. Their day begins at dawn rather than at midnight.

We would like to wish all of our children and staff a prosperous Happy New Year!

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