Times and Dates

Telling the Time

Ethiopia is GMT/UTC+3.

Importantly, by Ethiopian reckoning all local times are 6 hours behind the time in European/Western reckoning. For example, 9:00 AM local time by Western reckoning is 3:00 AM by Ethiopian reckoning, and 12 noon by Western reckoning is 6:00 AM by Ethiopian reckoning.

Generally, unless a time is unambiguously declared to be European time, one should always assume Ethiopian reckoning is being used, and be careful to convey times in proper Ethiopian reckoning to patients to avoid confusion.

Because of Ethiopia’s equatorial location, Ethiopian time is exquisitely logical: the approximate time of sunrise year-round, 6 AM by Western reckoning, is assigned to be 12 AM, so that the hour of day or night corresponds to the number of hours since sunrise or sunset. For example, 10 AM by Western reckoning corresponds to 4 AM by Ethiopian reckoning, and at that time the sun will have been up for about 4 hours.

Amharic times are differentiated analogously to “am” and “pm” by the terms “in the morning,” “in the evening,” or “in the night.”

English Amharic
in the morning ţewatu
in the evening meshetu
in the night lelitu

The Ethiopian Calendar

The Ethiopian calendar divides the year into 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days or 6 days during a leap year. The Ethiopian year number is eight years less than the Western (Gregorian) year number from January 1 until September 10 or 11, then seven years less for the remainder of the Western year.

Month Start date/Leap year start date
Meskerem 11 Sep/12 Sep
Teqemt 11 Oct/12 Oct
Hedar 10 Nov/11 Nov
Tahsas 10 Dec/11 Dec
Ter 9 Jan/10 Jan
Yekatit 8 Feb/9 Feb
Megabit 10 Mar/10 Mar
Miyazia 9 Apr/9 Apr
Ginbot 9 May/9 May
Sene 8 Jun/8 Jun
Hamle 8 Jul/8 Jul
Nehase 7 Aug/7 Aug
Pagume 6 Sep/6 Sep

Ethiopian Orthodox Festivals and Holy Days

6 or 7 Jan – Genna, Christmas
19 January – Timkat, Epiphany (Baptism of Christ)
February – Abiy Tsom or Hudadi, Lent
April or May – Fasika, Easter Sunday
11 September – Enķuţaţash, Ethiopian New Year and Feast of John the Baptist
27 or 28 September – Meskel, the Finding of the Cross

Muslim Festivals and Holy Days

November or December – Eid Al Fiţr, end of Ramadan fasts, especially celebrated in eastern Ethiopia
May or April – Maulid, birth of Mohammed
January or February – Eid Al Adha, the end of the Hajj pilgrimage