Time travel

You’ll feel seven years younger in Ethiopia

Philippine Tatler Traveller - - Heritage -

We’re all used to re­set­ting our watches when we land in a dif­fer­ent time zone, but when you touch down in Ethiopia you’ll need to ad­just your cal­en­dar too be­cause it’s ac­tu­ally 2010. Un­like na­tions that fol­low the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar (the ma­jor­ity), Ethiopia uses an an­cient sys­tem in­flu­enced by its branch of Ortho­dox Chris­tian­ity. Its cal­en­dar has 13 months, with New Year’s Day cel­e­brated on Septem­ber 11 and Christ­mas Day on Jan­uary 7. The is­sue of time is even more per­plex­ing be­cause Ethiopi­ans con­sider the start of the day to be sun­rise, so the time at day­break is 12 o’clock. The time at noon is not 12 o’clock but 6 o’clock. So set your watch to lo­cal time and men­tally sub­tract 6 hours to un­der­stand where you are in the day. And there’s no “a.m.” or “p.m.” Ethiopi­ans say “8 in the day” for what would be our 2 p.m., and “8 at night” (2 a.m.). When ar­rang­ing to meet, al­ways con­firm whether you’re talk­ing Ethiopian or or­di­nary time, or some­one will have a very long wait.

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