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Calendar - Ethiopian

NumisdocDates & calendars

Written on April 7, 2011
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Reading the date

Ethiopia generally uses a specific calendar which shows on all of its coins. It almost works like the Gregorian calendar although being late by about 7 years and 8 months.

It may be hard to locate and read the date's figures. The date is made of 3 to 5 figures, usually starting with ፲ ፰ ፻  or  ፲ ፱ ፻  or  ፳ ፻.

As an example, the coin on the right reads ፲ ፱ ፻ ፴ ፮, that is 1936. It represents the Gregorian period extending from September 12, 1943 until September 10, 1944.

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፯
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How to read an Ethiopian date

The Ethiopian calendar, also called the Ge'ez calendar starts on August 29, 8 AD. The 365 day long year gets an extra day every fourth year without any exception. As the Gregorian calendar uses more complicated rules for calculating leap years, the gap between both calendars slowly increases, by one day every 100 or 200 years.

Reading the date

Amharic language has 20 figures:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 10 000
Numbers till 99 are written using the tens figure then the unit figure.
For numbers larger than 100, you first write the hundreds as above, then ፻ (100), and then the tens and units as above.
For example ፲ ፱ ፻ ፴ ፮ means (10+9) × 100 + (30+6) = 1936.

Converting the date

The Ethiopian year spans across two Gregorian years. You can calculate the Gregorian year at the beginning of the Ethiopian year by adding 7 to the Ethiopian calendar. Add 8 for converting the end of year. For example, the 1936 Ethiopian year started in 1943 and ended in 1944 of the Gregorian calendar.
Ethiopian years from 1893 start on Gregorian September 11, or September 12 if the year divides by 4. During the previous century, starting dates where September 10 or 11.

Examples

  • ፲ ፱ ፻ ፴ ፮ = (10+9) × 100 + (30+6) = 1936. Notice that 1936 divides by 4 (1936÷4=484) and is later than 1893. Hence, Ethiopian 1936 started on Gregorian September 12, 1936 + 7 = 1943. It ended on September 10 (1937 doesn't divide by 4, hence started on September 11).

  • ፳ ፱ ፪ = 20 × 100 + 2 = 2002. Notice that 2002 doesn't divide by 4 (2002÷4=500.5) and is larger than 1893. Hence, Ethiopian 2002 started on September 11, 2009 and ended on September 10, 2010.