Many Ethiopians Lenten fast during the 55 days before Easter and avoid eating any animal products. Photo: humedica/Steven Hofmann
Easter in the humedica project country Ethiopia
Searching eggs, relaxing, spending some time with the family: for many people in Germany, the Easter holidays are for a most welcome change to the stressful everyday life. Spending harmonious days with your nearest and dearest, at last, and preferably in combination with a good meal.
For most Germans, the religious reason, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has retreated into the background. According to a survey conducted by the opinion research institute TNS Emnid in 2012, only 72 percent of the interviewees knew about the reason of this feast, not more than 34 percent went to an Easter service.
In the humedica project country Ethiopia, things are completely different. Even if, with 62.8 percent of the population, there are nearly as many Christians as in Germany, Easter is being celebrated much more intensely.
humedica staff member Steven Hofmann knows about the reason why and what exactly is the difference in the way of celebrating. The skilled banker and his family live in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abeba and, as a coordinator, he supervises the humedicafamily sponsorship program there.
Pita bread instead of Easter eggs
“The fact that the importance of Easter is becoming more and more insignificant for many Germans can hardly be denied. It seems as if people only look forward to some free time and to the delicious chocolate eggs from the supermarket. In Ethiopia, however, the country in which my family and I have been living for nearly two years now, Easter is still very significant for the people.
The members of the Ethiopian orthodox church, the largest religious denomination in the country, celebrate nine small and nine big feast days which celebrate special events in Jesus Christ’s life or which honor saints. One of those feast days is Easter. But not only the day of resurrection is being celebrated, the pre-Easter time is very important, too.
During the 55 days before Easter the people Lenten fast collectively. They abstain from any animal products, strictly religious people even abstain from eating and drinking until three p.m.
You cannot avoid noticing the Ethiopians’ pleasant anticipation. Not only because there will be a great feast like every year or because they will finally be allowed to eat meat again, but because they reflect on the origin of Easter and they are happy about the sacrifice which God has offered mankind.
When the great day has finally arrived, many Ethiopians don’t keep themselves from visiting a three-hour long church service. Because this starts at the stroke of midnight, as it does at Christmas, too. The Easter celebrations, which take place the day after that, are colorful and happy. Families and friends get together, they eat and drink together, they laugh and sometimes they dance.
After the Lenten, meat is most important amongst the traditional dishes. Nearly everywhere you get the Ethiopian leaven pita bread injera with a delicious sauce with chicken meat. This is being prepared with much oil, onions and hot spices and represents the favorite dish of nearly every Ethiopian.
Those who dispose of enough money, buy a sheep or an ox for the feast. For the latter often several families put their money together and then share the meat. But only few of them go to the butcher’s. Most Ethiopians buy the animals alive and butcher them themselves.
Like in Germany, the get-together is most important during the whole day. So it may happen that suddenly there are ten neighbors, friends and familymembers sitting together in a six square meter hut, eating injera together from a big plate and telling each other funny anecdotes until late in the evening.”
Dear friends and sponsors, whether you eat Ethiopian pita bread or German chocolate bunnies during the Easter days, in any case we wish you a blessed and happy Easter. Your humedica team!