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Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Around the World - Ethiopia

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Today we explore Easter in Ethiopia. Easter is called Fasika or Fasika-Tenssaie. Tenssaie is the word for Resurrection. In Ethiopia, fasting for Lent is 55 days to recognize the suffering of Moses as well as Jesus. Lent is called Hudade and nobody eats meat or any dairy products during this time. Three hour masses are attended every day during Lent.

Injera (during Easter Time, Lalibela, Ethiopia)
Typical Lenten Meal Source: By Maurice Chédel (Own work) [GFDL
or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Palm Sunday is called Hosanna. As in many Christian countries, the mood lightens for Palm Sunday. People carry tall palm leaves and crosses  to remember Jesus' journey into Jerusalem. Holy Week is called Passion Week or Semune himamat. In Ethiopia, they do not eat for the three days from Good Friday to Easter morning. They have a long night mass on Saturday night ending at dawn on Easter. The Easter feast often lasts for two days or more and can include mutton. People bring gifts to family and friends during Easter. Often people will play a game called gebet'a which is a bit similar to checkers or chess. It has a board that is carved from wood with cups cut into it. The players use pieces usually seeds, stones, or beans and move from cup to cup trying to capture the other player's pieces. Doing a search it looks like it is also called or similar to mancala. For more information on gebet'a visit Ethiopia the African Tibetan Show: Gebet'a World's Oldest Board Game.

Detail - Ethiopian Crosses at the Monastery of Na’akuto La’ab (3415428694)
Ethiopian Priest Holds Ethiopian Cross Source: By A. Davey from Where I Live Now: 
Pacific Northwest [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the things I found so interesting about Ethiopia is not actually an Easter celebration, but relates to Easter. Ethiopians have a festival/holiday called Maskel. Maskel celebrates when Helena, empress of Rome found the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Helena was born in A.D. 248 and spent many years searching for the true cross. An old man gave her the advice of lighting a fire and following the direction of the smoke. This is how she found the true cross. Every year in Ethiopia huge piles of wood and twigs are built for Maskel. Every village has its own pile and each family adds their own bundle of twigs called a chebo. They are lit to be a bonfire which grows huge. The bonfire is called Maskel Demera. Some families prefer to keep their chebos at home and burn them on their own on Maskel. There is a ceremony before an elder of the community lights the bonfire. It is an honor to be picked as the respected elder to light it. People stand around the fire and sing to welcome spring. Some take ash from the fire and draw a cross on their foreheads. They believe the ash will heal illness. The festivities end with feasting and dancing.

 
For this post, I used information from the books above. For more Multicultural and Easter Posts check out: