According to the last census, nearly 63% of the population in Ethiopia reported to be Christian (this is includes Orthodox, Protestant and the many other various branches of Christianity). Needless to say, this means that Easter is a pretty big deal in Ethiopia. The Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia probably take Easter most seriously. They have spent about two months fasting in order to prepare themselves for the Easter feast. Fasting for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians basically means being a vegan (no meat, no dairy, no animal products of any kind). This is a big thing to give up, considering the tastiest Ethiopian foods are made with a spiced ghee.
By now, most families will be buying onions, chickens, lambs, butter and all the other items required to prepare an Ethiopian feast. Friday will be spent observing Good Friday. Often times there will be church programs in both the Orthodox and Protestant churches here. Saturday will often be spent preparing the Doro Wot – a spicy, slow cooked, onion and chicken sauce. This is the food that nearly all Ethiopians love and are looking forward to eating on Sunday! It takes hours and hours of stirring it while it’s cooking in order to make it taste the best. It truly is a food made with love. Orthodox Christians (and probably some Protestant ones too…) will attend an overnight church service. This ends at 3am, at which point they can break their 2 month fast. Many families will spend the entire day together, just hanging out and eating.
There is definitely a holiday feeling in the air. You can also tell it by the prices of things. Onions, garlic, chickens, cooking oil, butter, etc. are all going up in price this week. Actually, prices are going up all around (not only due to Easter). It is becoming harder and harder for people to be able to afford the basic things. It makes me sad to think about all of the families who cannot afford to buy a chicken and celebrate.
Ruth and I are lucky enough to have two families to go to (her family, and Frew’s family). We get to enjoy two lovely injera feasts. But, more importantly, we are excited to have time with our friends and family. If you’re celebrating Easter this year, happy Easter! And, you should definitely think of replacing that ham and/or lamb with a mix of Ethiopian foods! You won’t be sorry!