Common information and rules for year calculations in Ethiopia
Ethiopia (officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) is a country in East Africa; it is one of the oldest states on our planet, as well as the oldest Christian country in Africa.
The Ethiopian calendar, also called the Ge'ez calendar, is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical calendar for Christians in Eritrea. The Ethiopian calendar is based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which in turn was derived from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception. The Ethiopian year begins on August 29 of the Julian calendar (in the case of a non-leap year) or on August 30 of the Julian calendar, in the case of a leap year.
It is significant to note that year counting in the Ethiopian calendar starts from August 29th, the 8th year in the old style (Julian calendar). This 8-year gap between the Ethiopian and the Gregorian calendars results from alternate calculations in determining the date of the Annunciation. Unlike the Lunar Hejira, where the new day begins right after sunset (at moonrise), and unlike the Gregorian calendar, in which the new day starts at midnight (00:00 or 24:00), the day in the Ethiopian calendar commences at sunrise.
The state language of Ethiopia is Amharic. Words and numerals on the coins of Ethiopia are written in this language.
The Coptic alphabet gave birth to the symbols that are used in Ethiopia for recording numerals, and, particularly, dates. Now please take a look at the converter on the left of the page. Units and tens are encoded with different symbols (which are not the same and not a combination of any previous symbols). Similar approaches are applied to Hebrew, Russian and Japanese date encoding systems.
Date calculation algorithm
The typical Ethiopian date inscription occupies 5 (five) positions. The date is written and read from left to right:
- D1: The number of tens in the number of centuries; for the coins minted in the XX-th century that is 10;
- D2: The number of units in the number of centuries; for the coins minted in the XX-th century that is 9;
- D3: «100» (the «one hundred» number, standing for a century);
- D4: Tens of the year;
- D5: Units of the year.
Here is an example [the image below represents the year of the Ethiopian Era equivalent to ((10 + 9)×100) + 20 + 3, i.e. EE 1923, or 1931 AD]:
Thus, remembering the 8-year gap, the formula for converting the Ethiopian date to the Gregorian date is as follows:
Date AD = ((D1 + D2) × D3) + D4 + D5 + 8.
Truth be told, we have to add not 8 years, but 7 years and 8 months (i.e. 7⅔ years) in the formula above. In order to operate with integer values in the calculations we round 7⅔ up to 8. Because of this, a 1 year error in the result of the calculations is possible.
The Ethiopian year spans two Gregorian years. Ethiopian years from EE (Ethiopian era) 1893 started on Gregorian September 11, or September 12 if the EE year is divisible by 4 without remainder (i.e. if it's a leap year). During the previous century before EE 1893, starting dates were September 10 or 11.
Refer to this article to find out the detailed description of the Ethiopian numerical system.
If you need an interactive Ethiopian writing board with decimal to Tigrinya numeral converter enabled, you definitely should visit this site (link updated! — November 5th, 2012; October 17, 2013: site no longer available), created by Nat Johannes.
As specified above, 2008 AD is equivalent to the year 2000 in the Ethiopian calendar. Hence, it should be typed as follows: ፳፻ (since D1=20, D2=0, D3=100, D4=D5=0). By analogy we have: 2009 AD = 2001 Eth. = ፳፻፩; 2010 AD = 2002 Eth. = ፳፻፪, etc.
Along with ፳፻, the following characters could be used in Ethiopia to write «2000» on coins: ፪ሺህ, since ሺህ = 1000. It is necessary to clarify that ሺህ is nothing other than a combination of syllables ሺ («ši») and ህ («hə»), therefore, the word «thousand» is spelled in Amharic as follows: «šihə». The Ethiopian year 2000 lasted from September 12, 2007 to September 11, 2008.
An example of an inscription «2000» on an Ethiopian coin can be seen in the picture below:
The following picture is a partial image of the Ethiopian printed calendar relating to the Ethiopian year 2002 (that is from 11 September 2009 to 10 September 2010 AD).
Monetary system of present day Ethiopia
The unit of currency in Ethiopia is the birr. 1 birr is subdivided into 100 santim. Recent coin issues are as follows: 5, 10, 25 and 50 santim.