Ethiopians have a distinct naming system from the Western family name-based one. Children add their father’s and paternal grandfather’s given names sequentially to their own given name. As with passports, the grandfather’s given name is used as a family surname for compatibility reasons, and a person’s given name plus his/her father’s given name constitute the first name.
Everyone is referred to by his or her given name. In formal contexts, the prefixes Ato (ኣቶ) are used for males, Weyzero (ወይዘሮ) for married women, and Weyzert (ወይዘሪት) for unmarried women.
Ethiopia has a number of native calendars. The Ethiopian calendar, commonly known as the Ge’ez calendar, is the most well-known. It is based on the earlier Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which is based on the Egyptian calendar. The Ethiopian calendar, like the Coptic calendar, contains twelve months of precisely 30 days each plus five or six epagomenal days that make up a thirteenth month. Ethiopian months begin on the same days as Coptic months, although their names are in Ge’ez.
The sixth epagomenal day, which is essentially a leap day, is added every four years without fail on 29 August of the Julian calendar, six months before the Julian leap day. Thus, the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Mäskäräm, is typically 11 September (Gregorian) for years between 1901 and 2099 (inclusive), but falls on 12 September in years preceding the Gregorian leap year. A seven- to eight-year difference between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars is also the consequence of an alternative computation in calculating the date of Jesus’ Annunciation.
The Oromo created another notable calendrical system about 300 BC. This Oromo lunar-stellar calendar is based on astronomical measurements of the moon in combination with seven specific stars or constellations. Bittottessa (Iangulum), Camsa (Pleiades), Bufa (Aldebarran), Waxabajjii (Belletrix), Obora Gudda (Central Orion-Saiph), Obora Dikka (Sirius), Birra (full moon), Cikawa (gibbous moon), Sadasaa (quarter moon), Abrasa (big crescent), Ammaji ( (small crescent).
Time is measured differently in Ethiopia than in many Western nations. Throughout the year, the Ethiopian day begins at 6 a.m. rather than 12 a.m., when the sun rises. To convert between Ethiopian and Western time, add (or remove) 6 hours to the Western time. In Ethiopia, 2 a.m. local Addis Ababa time is referred to as “8 at night,” while 8 p.m. is referred to as “2 in the evening.”
Ethiopian cuisine is well renowned for its thick meat stews, known as wat in Ethiopian culture, and vegetable side dishes served over injera, a wide sourdough flatbread made of teff flour. This is not eaten with cutlery, but rather with the injera, which is used to scoop up the entrées and side dishes. In Ethiopia, it is almost usual to eat from the same dish in the middle of the table with a group of people. It is also customary to feed people in your group with your own hands — a practice known as “gursha.” Pork and shellfish are prohibited in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian religions, therefore they are not used in traditional Ethiopian cuisine.
The most popular Oromo meals include chechebsa (), marqa, chukko, michirra, and dhanga. Kitfo (), which originates from the Gurage, is a generally recognized and popular dish in Ethiopia. Doro wot is another famous dish that originated with the Amhara people of northwestern Ethiopia. Tihlo (), a kind of dumpling, is made from roasted barley flour. It originated in Tigray and is currently popular in Amhara and expanding farther south.
Ethiopian music is highly varied, with each of the country’s 80 ethnic groups associated with distinct sounds. Ethiopian music has a unique pentatonic modal structure with unusually lengthy intervals between certain notes. Tastes in music and lyrics, like many other elements of Ethiopian culture and history, are closely connected with those of neighboring Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan. Ethiopian traditional singing displays a variety of polyphonic techniques (heterophony, drone, imitation, and counterpoint). Lyricism in Ethiopian song composition has traditionally been linked with patriotism or national pride, romance, friendship, and a very distinctive kind of memoire known as ‘Tizita.’
Track & field (especially long distance running) and football are the most popular sports in Ethiopia (soccer). Ethiopian athletes have won many Olympic gold medals in track and field, the majority of which have come in long distance running. Haile Gebrselassie is a world-renowned long-distance runner who holds many world records. Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba are also strong runners, especially in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, where they hold world records.
Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Derartu Tulu, Meseret Defar, Almaz Ayana, Birhane Adere, Tiki Gelana, Genzebe Dibaba, Tariku Bekele, and Gelete Burka are some famous Ethiopian athletes. As of 2012, the current national Ethiopian football team (Walayia Antelopes) has achieved history by qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (CAF) and, more recently, by reaching the last ten African football teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification stage. Adane Girma, the captain, and top scorer Saladin Said are two notable players.
Ethiopia has the oldest basketball history in Sub-Saharan Africa, having created a national basketball team in 1949.