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Danit provides solo travelers with several ways to discover the Ethiopia on their own and all provide excellent value.

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Ethiopian Calendar

It is based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar. A seven to eight year gap between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from alternate calculations in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus.

Like the Coptic calendar, the Ethiopian calendar has twelve months of 30 days each plus five or six epagomenal days, which comprise a thirteenth month. The Ethiopian months begin on the same days as those of the Coptic calendar, but their names are in Ge'ez. The sixth epagomenal day is added every four years without exception on August 29 of the Julian calendar, six months before the Julian leap day. Thus the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Mäskäräm, for years between 1901 and 2099 (inclusive), is usually September 11 (Gregorian), but falls on September 12 in years before the Gregorian leap year.

Language

The Ethiopian languages are divided into four major language groups. These are Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan.

Ethiopia has more than 83 different languages with up to 200 different dialects spoken. The largest ethnic and linguistic groups are the Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans.

Ge'ez is the ancient language, and was introduced as an official written language during the first Axumite kingdom when the Sabeans sought refuge in Axum. The Axumites developed Ge'ez a unique script derived from the Sabean alphabet and it is still used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church today. Tigrigna and Amharigna (Amharic) are the modern languages which are derived from Ge'ez. Amharic is the official national language of Ethiopia. English, Arabic, Italian and French are widely spoken by many Ethiopians.

Independent African Nation

The Ethiopians are proud of the fact that their country has never been colonized throughout their history. Africans adopted the Ethiopian tri-colors, green, gold and red as theirs. It eventually became the colors of pan-Africanism.

Ark of the Covenant

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum. The object is currently kept under guard in a treasury near the Church of St. Mary of Zion and is used occasionally in ritual processions. Replicas of the Axum Tabot are kept in every Ethiopian church, each with its own dedication to a particular saint; the most popular of these include Mary, George and Michael.

The Kebra Nagast, composed to legitimize the new dynasty ruling Ethiopia following its establishment in 1270, narrates how the real Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. Although the Kebra Nagast is the best-known account of this belief, the belief predates the document. Abu Salih the Armenian, writing in the last quarter of the twelfth century, makes one early reference to this belief that they possessed the Ark. "The Abyssinians possess also the Ark of the Covenant", he wrote, and, after a description of the object, describes how the liturgy is celebrated upon the Ark four times a year, "on the feast of the great nativity, on the feast of the glorious Baptism, on the feast of the Holy Resurrection, and on the feast of the illuminating Cross". 



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