Ethiopian Easter in April

church picturesEthiopian Easter is perhaps the most revered holiday among the Ethiopian Christians especially the followers of the Orthodox Church.

It is celebrated after a 55 days or 8 weeks of fasting in which the last week is considered to be the most important week of the season.

It is the week that Christ’s passion is to be remembered by subjecting oneself to symbolic emotional sufferings.

Ethiopian Easter is held in April. The exact day could vary in each year as it is set by the high ranking leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The whole feel of the holiday begin at the start of the fasting season. Weddings have to be done early possible before April. One can notice a lot rush especially on the last couple of weeks before the fasting begins. This is because people don’t eat any meat on the fasting days and no one imagines a wedding party without meat as part of the dishes.

Ethiopians enjoy as much feasts as possible before the entering of the fasting season including the very last night before the start of the season.

On this day, usually a sheep or a goat is killed and people farewell the old and welcome the new season.

During the fasting seasons, most of restaurants do not serve dishes meat is included. Some, who are not part of the whole thing, find this difficult. However, one can bet for the best variety cousins the country could offer in these days. You can find varieties of mouth watering veggie dishes at almost any restaurant.

The fasting season is also accompanied by various spiritual songs that are purposed for this particular time of the year. You can hear the songs on almost every street as you pass by the music shops.

For businesses especially restaurants and pubs, it is a business recession season as most Ethiopians consume less during this time. For example it is common to see a butchery on almost every street is….at least one every km distance.

This is because Ethiopians are really meat lovers – cooked, partially cooked, even the raw one. However, during this season like 90% of the butcheries are closed – no business for about two months.

The last Sunday before Easter is named Hosanna, the day Jesus is believed went to Jerusalem on donkey’s back.

As depicted in the bible, the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church take palm leaves, make ribbons with it and celebrate the day. They keep it for the whole week until the day of Easter.

The last week before Easter is dedicated for Christ’s passion and pains he had endured. For this purpose, people attend afternoon prayers and spend much of their time worshiping and repenting for wrong doings.

Thursday of the week is dedicated for the Last Supper and Christ’s act of washing the feet of his disciples. This was an act of teaching his disciples to serve one another and become a servant leader. The same is practiced in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church by the bishops including the patriarch himself taking a towel and washing the feet of their disciples.

On this day families prepare a special meal made of boiled beans and wheat; a type of meal usually prepared for mourners after they buried a person who just passed. So the same is prepared on Thursday to remember of Christ’s death.

The next day is Good Friday, the most important Friday of the year which people spend most part of this day attending church services. It is common to see even those who are less devoted fasting the whole day and repenting for wrong doings before their priests.

Saturday is spent to prepare oneself for the feast. People buy sheep and chicken; prepare huge traditional bread and home made beer etc whilst in the churches there is a whole night vigil.

The celebration begins right after mid night, the time Christ is believed resurrected. Then as the day breaks people exchange their good wishes, give thanks to God, kill the sheep and chicken they have bought and enjoy the holiday.  They keep the mood for the whole week and no fasting for the next two months.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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