Ethiopians have more than enough reasons to be proud. Archaeological findings in the Afar region of their country suggest that the human race may have started in Ethiopia. Also, the country grows some of the best coffee beans in the world. As if that isn’t enough, the Rastafarian movement thrived and evolved in Jamaica, but claims Ethiopia as its spiritual homeland. There are a ton of interesting facts about Ethiopia that many don’t know, but should learn. Ethiopian
Ethiopians have, and still use a thirteen-month calendar; they have also a different time schedule from what is generally used in the West. And every Ethiopian must be proud to tell you that Ethiopia was never under colonial rule. Yes, the Italians invaded the place in the early nineteenth century and built some infrastructure, but they were soon routed and chased out by the ever-resistant Ethiopians.
Also, in case you didn’t know, the African Union is headquartered in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa; the same as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. A country with such amazing historical and cultural credentials is definitely a place worth your attention. It is also a country not stinting on festivity, with a slew of fascinating festivals ranging from the cultural to the spiritual. In honor of this East African country, we’ve curated a list of fascinating things about Ethiopia to delight you.
Check out 5 interesting facts about Ethiopia that everyone should know…
#1. A story about coffee
Lore has it that the coffee industry was birthed in Ethiopia thanks to an Ethiopian herder and his goat. The herder first observed his goat helping itself to some lush bush and clearly loving it. Curious, he too helped himself to the plant and realized that he coped better with his occupation thanks to this bush. The bush was a coffee bush; this discovery birthed the coffee industry on which a big chunk of Ethiopian society still relies, and to which coffee lovers the world over must be grateful.
#2. The story of Lucy and Ardi
In 1974, archaeologists discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia the skeleton of a 3.2 million-year-old hominid, an evolutionary ancestor to our current human species. Named Lucy, this hominid skeleton made a worldwide tour that lasted for nine years and enjoyed global interest. An older hominid named Ardi would be discovered in the same Afar region of Ethiopia in 2005, to even wider attention. So we have the Ethiopians to thank, as the home of these hominids, for providing deep insight into our evolutionary journey as humans. No doubt, this is one of the interesting facts about Ethiopia and the Ethiopians are definitely proud.
#3. A story of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon
It’s documented in the Bible how the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of the Israelite king named Solomon and traveled to see and hear things for herself. The Ethiopians have more to add to this famous Biblical story. If you ask an Ethiopian about the Queen of Sheba, they’ll tell you that she was the mother of Menelik I, the first Ethiopian king and that Menelik’s father was King Solomon.
“How could it be?” you’ll ask. Your Ethiopian friend will tell you that when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon, he assured her that he wouldn’t take from her unless she took from him. But King Solomon was clever; he fed her food heavy with spices and planted a cup of water by her bed. She woke in the night thirsty and drank Solomon’s water. Solomon took what he craved, and so the Queen of Sheba returned to Ethiopia carrying his child, Menelik I. With Menelik I began a line of the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia that ruled until 1974 when Haile Selassie I was deposed.
#4. Ethiopia’s calendar and time schedule – Ethiopia date
One of the interesting things about Ethiopia is its calendar and time schedule. While most countries of the world pattern their lives after the twelve-month Gregorian calendar, Ethiopians have stuck with the thirteen-month Julian calendar, which most of the world abandoned in the late sixteenth century. The Ethiopian calendar has 12 months composed of 30 days each, plus one month of five days. For this reason, Ethiopia is seven years behind most of the world.
Ethiopians also have a different time schedule from what is generally used in the West. By Ethiopian time, the sun rises at 1 o’clock and sets at 12 o’clock. The 12-hour clock is widely used in Ethiopia, with a cycle of one to 12 from sunrise to sunset, and the other from sunset to sunrise. It helps that Ethiopia is close to the equator, so daylight is very much consistent all year round. Reckoning time can be confusing for visitors in this country, but it’s one of the special features of being here.
#5. The joy of the Timkat Festival
A list of interesting facts about Ethiopia wouldn’t be complete without this festival. You surely haven’t seen all that the country has to offer if you haven’t seen Timkat Festival. Timkat, which celebrates the baptism of Jesus, is the biggest festival for Orthodox Christians and is a national holiday in Ethiopia.
Replicas of the Ark of Covenant (or Tabots) are moved from churches to the nearest source of water. Multitudes of locals dressed in white clothes follow the priests in a joyful procession to the water source to participate in communal baptism. The priests at Timkat are quite a sight to behold; rigged out in colorful ceremonial robes, they march regally hoisting ornate umbrellas. The Tabot is wrapped in velvet or brocade and carried on the head of a priest and shaded with splendid umbrellas. There’s a lot of singing and dancing by the jubilant thousands. Timkat lasts three days.
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A writer fascinated by humanity and diversity. He is the author of Do Not Say It’s Not Your Country.