No, this is not an old photo nor have I unearthed a time machine – it is a very Happy New Year 2012 here in Addis Ababa, which was celebrated on September 12, 2019 of the Gregorian calendar.

Ethiopians adhere to a different calendar which, like the Egyptian Coptic calendar, has 13 months, 365 days (and a leap year every fourth year). It follows ancient calendar rules and beliefs, and while the calendar also uses the birth of Jesus as a start point, the calculation of that date is different.

The confusion for “Forenji” does not end there – the time of day is also different, which I will not even try to explain here because I still do not entirely understand it.

With all the travel I do, I barely know what day, time and year it is in my own native system, much less in Ethiopia’s. It takes a few extra minutes for everyone to work out what day/time we want to meet up – and it requires being sure to use qualifiers such as “night”, “evening”, “morning” and “afternoon” to be sure everyone is on the same page.  

Fortunately, transport and work appointments are made on the international time standard so I haven’t missed anything (yet)!

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