Ethiopian Culture

Other Considerations

Primary Author
Nina Evason,
  • Ethiopia has its own calendar that is approximately seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar used in Western countries. The Ethiopian Year starts on the 11th of September.
  • Be aware that time is counted differently in Ethiopia. The day technically starts at dawn and goes to dusk, and the night starts at dusk and goes to dawn. Therefore, instead of the clock striking 1am in the middle of the night, 1am occurs at sunrise (technically 7am in East Africa Time).
  • Most Muslim Ethiopian women wear a long loose dress called an ‘abaya’ that covers their body from head to ankle. They may also wear a hijab (headscarf) that covers their hair. Some may wear a niqab (face veil) that covers their face as well.
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a customary practice in some regions of Ethiopia that usually occurs after a girl’s birth. While Ethiopian migrant women and girls are less likely to undergo the procedure in Australia (where it is illegal), they may be flown back to Ethiopia by their families to have it performed. 
  • Consider that Ethiopians’ political views, even voiced in another country, can have consequences. The Ethiopian government authorities have significant intelligence-gathering capabilities and have been known to detect those who openly criticise the government while overseas.1 This can have an impact on any remaining family an individual may have in Ethiopia or mean action will be taken upon them if they return. Therefore, be aware that an Ethiopian may not always feel at liberty to speak their mind on certain topics.
  • It is common to encounter quite strong positions on issues relating to religious morality and social conservatism, particularly homosexuality. Homosexual relations are illegal and strongly opposed by 97% of the population.2
  • Older versions of the country's flag are prohibited in Ethiopia, as well as the use of the flag without its emblem. Be aware that some people might take offence to misuse of the flag.


1 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017
2 Pew Research Forum, 2007

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