May 28, 2013
I'm going to start a blog on cultural differences among people of various ethnic origins and languages. Let's call it "ESL Tales." The purpose of my blog is to celebrate the differences that make us so unique.
As some of you may know, I conduct the ESL Conversations program at the Antioch Branch for non-native English speakers in need of practicing their English speaking skills. Through this program, I meet so many great people with very unique stories. Everybody has his or her story to tell. Here is one.
Do you think that every country in the modern world follows the same calendar and today is the same date for everybody? Wrong. I met a person from Ethiopia who told me he was 31 years old, but according to his Library card, he was born in 1975. Do the math and you'll find out he is supposed to be 38. As it turns out, it is now 2005 in his home country of Ethiopia...
I did some research and found out that Ethiopia has its own ancient calendar -The Ge'ez calendar. It is based on an ancient Coptic Egyptian calendar and has 13 months. Twelve months have 30 days, and the thirteenth month has 5 or 6 days depending on whether the year is a Leap year or not. The Ge'ez calendar is 7 to 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar that we use due to different calculations of when Jesus' birth was announced. The year starts on 11th of September (or 12 in Leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. Thus, today's date in Gregorian calendar is May 28th, 2013, whereas in Ge'ez calendar, it is September 20th, 2005.
Now my question is whether we pay attention to such details when vital records in the United States are created for people from Ethiopia? And other cultures? How much more do we NEED know about cultural differences like this?
More information about the Ethiopian calendar can be found here: