A page from the "Calendars" exhibit...

Some Other Calendars


The Ethiopian calendar is based on the Coptic calendar, although it differs with regard to the saint’s days and the time of observing them.

The Coptic, or Egyptian, calendar is 7/8 years behind the Gregorian calendar. This discrepancy results from differences between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church as to the date of the creation of the world.

The Ethiopian calendar is based on the Egyptian. An Egyptian year has 13 months. The first 12 months have 30 days. The last month, Paguemain, is an intercalary month, which has 6 days on leap year and 5 on others.

The year starts on 11 September in the Gregorian Calendar or on the 12th in (Gregorian) Leap Years. The Coptic Leap Year follows the same rules as the Gregorian so that the extra month always has 6 days in a Gregorian Leap Year. The names of the months and their starting dates are as follows:

EgyptianEthiopianStart Date (regular)Start Date (leap year)
ThuoutMeskerem11 Sept12 Sept
PaopiTikemet11 Oct12 Oct
AthorHidar10 Nov11 Nov
KhoiakTahesas10 Dec11 Dec
TobiTir9 Jan10 Jan
MekhirYekatit8 Feb9 Feb
Fameno or BaramhatMegabit10 Mar-
Farmou or BaramoudaMiyaza9 Apr-
PakhonGinbot9 May-
PaonySene8 Jun-
EpepHamle8 Jul-
MesoriNehase7 Aug-
NasiePagume6 Sep-

The Coptic New Year is a holiday in Ethiopia. Christmas falls on the 7th of January as in the Orthodox "old" calendar. Likewise, Epiphany is on the 19th of January. Easter would appear to be calculated according to the Orthodox calendar also. Christmas and Epiphany also do not appear to move by one day during Leap Years as they would if they were being set by the above calendar. Thus, it would seem that Christian feasts are set according to the Orthodox calendar rather than according to the Coptic. An Egyptian Coptic source simply describes the date of Easter as being "the second Sunday after the first full moon in Spring."

These are the major public holidays:

Date (in Western Calendar)Ethiopian public holiday
January 7Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)
January 19Ethiopian Epiphany (Timkat)
March 2Victory of Adwa Day
March 13Id Al Fitir (End of Ramadan)
April 6Patriots Victory Day
April 17Id Al Adha (Arafa)
April 25Ethiopian Good Friday
April 27Ethiopian Easter (Fasika)
May 28Downfall of the Dergue (Since 1991)
July 17Birth of Prophet Mohammed (Moulid)
Sepember 11Ethiopian New Year (Enqutatash)
September 27Feast of the True Cross (Meskal)


The Persian calendar is a solar calendar with a starting point that matches that of the Islamic calendar. Apart from that, the two calendars are not related. The origin of the Persian calendar can be traced back to the 11th century when a group of astronomers (including the well-known poet Omar Khayyam) created what is known as the Jalaali calendar. However, a number of changes have been made to the calendar since then.

The current calendar has been used in Iran since 1925 and in Afghanistan since 1957. However, Afghanistan used the Islamic calendar in the years 1999-2002.

What does a Persian year look like?

The names and lengths of the 12 months that comprise the Persian year are:

1. Farvardin (31 days)7. Mehr (30 days)
2. Ordibehesht (31 days)8. Aban (30 days)
3. Khordad (31 days)9. Azar (30 days)
4. Tir (31 days)10. Day (30 days)
5. Mordad (31 days)11. Bahman (30 days)
6. Shahrivar (31 days)12. Esfand (29/30 days)

(Due to different transliterations of the Persian alphabet, other spellings of the months are possible.) In Afghanistan the months are named differently.

The month of Esfand has 29 days in an ordinary year, 30 days in a leap year.

When does the Persian year begin?

The Persian year starts at vernal equinox. If the astronomical vernal equinox falls before noon (Tehran true time) on a particular day, then that day is the first day of the year. If the astronomical vernal equinox falls after noon, the following day is the first day of the year.

How does one count years?

As in the Islamic calendar (section 4.3), years are counted since Mohammed’s emigration to Medina in AD 622. At vernal equinox of that year, AP 1 started (AP = Anno Persico/Anno Persarum = Persian year).

Note that contrary to the Islamic calendar, the Persian calendar counts solar years. In the year AD 2003 we have therefore witnessed the start of Persian year 1382, but the start of Islamic year 1424.

What years are leap years?

Since the Persian year is defined by the astronomical vernal equinox, the answer is simply: Leap years are years in which there are 366 days between two Persian New Year’s days.

However, basing the Persian calendar purely on an astronomical observation of the vernal equinox is rejected by many, and a few mathematical rules for determining the length of the year have been suggested.

The most popular (and complex) of these is probably the following:

The calendar is divided into periods of 2820 years. These periods are then divided into 88 cycles whose lengths follow this pattern:

29, 33, 33, 33, 29, 33, 33, 33, 29, 33, 33, 33, ...

This gives 2816 years. The total of 2820 years is achieved by extending the last cycle by 4 years (for a total of 37 years).

If you number the years within each cycle starting with 0, then leap years are the years that are divisible by 4, except that the year 0 is not a leap year.

So within, say, a 29 year cycle, this is the leap year pattern:

Year Year 

This gives a total of 683 leap years every 2820 years, which corresponds to an average year length of 365 683/2820 = 365.24220 days. This is a better approximation to the tropical year than the 365.2425 days of the Gregorian calendar.

The current 2820 year period started in the year AP 475 (AD 1096).

This "mathematical" calendar currently coincides closely with the purely astronomical calendar. In the years between AP 1244 and 1531 (AD 1865 and 2152) a discrepancy of one day is seen twice, namely in AP 1404 and 1437 (starting at vernal equinox of AD 2025 and 2058). However, outside this period, discrepancies are more frequent.


The Balinese use two calendar systems, the Hindu Çaka and their own Pawukon. The Pawukon is intricate. It is based on ten concurrent weeks, which have one to ten days (although the one-day week is really a copy of the two-day week with only one day named). To complicate matters, only the three-day, five-day and seven-day weeks run regularly: the others are derived in various ways. The whole system repeats every 210 days: these 210 days are divided into thirty named cycles of the seven-day week. There are various other cycles and holy days defined on these principles.


The Baha'i religion was founded in Iran in the mid-19th century by Mirza Hoseyn ‘Ali Nuri, who is known as Baha’ Ullah (Arabic: "Glory of God"). The cornerstone of Baha'i belief is the conviction that Baha’ Ullah and his forerunner, who was known as the Bab, were manifestations of God, who in his essence is unknowable. The principal Baha'i tenets are the essential unity of all religions and the unity of humanity. Baha'is believe that all the founders of the world’s great religions have been manifestations of God and agents of a progressive divine plan for the education of the human race. Despite their apparent differences, the world’s great religions, according to the Baha'is, teach an identical truth. Baha’ Ullah’s peculiar function was to overcome the disunity of religions and establish a universal faith. Baha'is believe in the oneness of humanity and devote themselves to the abolition of racial, class, and religious prejudices. The great bulk of Baha'i teachings is concerned with social ethics; the faith has no priesthood and does not observe ritual forms in its worship.

The Year

The year is based on the solar year of 365 days, five hours and some fifty minutes. Each year is divided into nineteen months of nineteen days each with four Intercalary Days (five in a leap year), called Ayyám-i-Há which Bahá'u'lláh specified should precede the nineteenth month. The Bahá’í New Year’s Day (Naw Rúz) falls on the Spring Equinox. This usually occurs on 21 March but if the Equinox falls after sunset on 21 March, Naw Rúz is to be celebrated on 22 March because the Bahá’í day begins at sunset.

The Months

The names of the months in the Bahá’í (Badí) calendar were given by the Báb, who drew them from the nineteen names of God invoked in a prayer said during the month of fasting in Islam. At the beginning of each month, the Bahá’ís hold their local community’s regular worship gathering. Called a "Feast," it is more a spiritual dinner than a physical one. The months are:

OrderNameMeaningGregorian Dates
1BaháSplendor21 March - 8 April
2JalálGlory9 April - 27 April
3JamálBeauty28 April - 16 May
4'AzamatGrandeur17 May - 4 June
5NúrLight5 June - 23 June
6RahmatMercy24 June - 12 July
7KalimátWords13 July - 31 July
8KamálPerfection1 August - 19 August
9Asmá’Names20 August - 7 September
10'IzzatMight8 September - 26 September
11MashíyyatWill27 September - 15 October
12'IlmKnowledge16 October - 3 November
13QudratPower4 November - 22 November
14QawlSpeech23 November - 11 December
15Masá'ilQuestions12 December - 30 December
16SharafHonor31 December - 18 February
17SultánSovereignty19 Janurary - 6 February
18MulkDominion7 February - 25 February
19'AláLoftiness2 March - 20 March

The days of the week:

OrderNameMeaningGregorian Equivalent

The Bahá’í day of rest is Isiqlál (Friday) and the Bahá’í day begins and ends at sunset.

Each of the days of the month is also given the name of one of the attributes of God. the names are the same as those of the nineteen months; thus Naw-Rúz, the first day of the first month, would be considered the ‘day of Bahá of the month Bahá’. If it fell on a Saturday, the first day of the Bahá’í week, it would also be the 'day of Jalál’

The Cycles (Váhid)

In His Writings, revealed in Arabic, the Báb divided the years following the date of His Revelation into cycles of nineteen years each. Each cycle of nineteen years is called a Váhid; nineteen cycles constitute a period called Kull-i-Shay. The names of the years in each cycle are:

1AlifThe Letter "A"11BahhájDelightful
2The letter "B"12JavábAnswer
4DálThe letter "D"14VahhábBountiful
6VávThe letter "V"16BadíBeginning
8JádGenerosity18AbháMost Luminous


Literally, Days of Há (i.e. the letter Há, which in the abjad system has the numerical value of 5).

Intercalary Days

The four days (five in a leap year) before the last month of the Bahá’í year, ‘Alá’, which is the month of fasting. Bahá'u'lláh designated the Intercalary days as Ayyám-i-Há in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and specified when they should be observed; the Báb left this undefined. The Ayyám-i-Há are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, hospitality, feasting, charity and gift giving.