Do you sometimes have this day when nothing works, everyone is irritating and you are just about to scream or run someone over ;)… or at least sit down and cry? Well, we were somewhere there yesterday. Things are much better now and soon I will even be able to tell you the whole story :)
In stressful situations it’s good to have a way to escape. Majority reaches for a cigaret, some use a relaxing mantra or buy a favorite chocolate bar (not available in Ethiopia, though). What do I do? Good question. Not much, except for drinking water to avoid a headache. Yesterday, however, the kids of Addis made me smile a few times and simply helped me with my day.
Ethiopia is a truly religious country and every Catholic holiday is celebrated with a dedication and involvement.
Having just celebrated Ethiopian Christmas I was surprised when another big event came up only 12 days later. Ethiopian Timkat, known also as Epiphany, reminds the Christians of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The major celebrations take place in Gondor and Lalibela, and are known for its splendor and colourful processions. Thanks to Schuse’s beautiful pictures you can taste the atmosphere of Lalibela:)
Timkat starts with the services in the Orthodox Churches. As usual this incredibly mysterious prayers are heard in the whole city. After hours of singing a long procession leaves the churches to join all the other processions in the direction of Jan Meda- the biggest opened space in Addis. Each sanctuary owns the Tabot- a copy of the Arc of the Covenant and is a symbolic heart of the temple. The normal people rarely have a chance to take a glimpse of this holy book. During the procession the Tabot is wrapped carefully in reach fabrics and ‘installed’ on the priest’s head- in such form it leaves the church to ‘meet’ the believers and bless them on its way. The path of the procession is decorated with the Ethiopian clolurs, groups of the youngsters run with the brooms and cleans the way for the Tabots, people sing and jump with the sticks to show the union and devotion to God. At Jan Meda, each church has a place under the tent, were the long prayers till the morning hours begin. Surrounding the holy ceremonials, a real party activities start, with eating, singing, dancing and… flirting. It is a real IT- place, something like an Ethiopian Oktoberfest, where people wear their best (lets face it- sexy) clothes and socialize with the crowds. Don’t be surprise to get hit lightly with a….lime. Oh yes- it’s a signal that someone is attracted to you and wants to have a dance. Well, for sure it is a good day for the grocery shops ;)
Lets start with the fact that not everyone likes weddings. I have friends who get upset when getting an invitation, because they have to face all the dilemmas what to buy, what to wear, how to get there and where to stay for the night. The difficulties usually melt away when the party starts and everyone can show the social and dancing skills. The wedding dance floor (and a bit of % ;)) has an incredible magnetic ability that works even on the usual non- dancers.
Surprisingly I haven’t met anyone in Ethiopia who doesn’t like or care about weddings. Actually one of my best friends, H. is a real wedding crasher and he never misses a chance to show his dancing abilities. About the traditional Ethiopian dance I wrote already
and could do that again as it always amazes me. You can check it out for yourself here:
Neither the impossibly fast head and shoulders movements nor the difficult music interpretation is able to discourage me to try. My attempts meet with a very positive reactions so I guess I don’t have to feel bad about it ;)
The weddings are also a great opportunity to meet people, talk to the work colleagues on more relaxed basis, observe the behavior, outfits of the others and how everyone simply HAVE FUN!
Left: Suse alias “Shuze” and me with our food loot.
Right: An extraordinary moment- not only am I not taller than the Ethiopian but also much much shorter! Zelalem sweared that he’s never stood next to such a tall girl, though :)
I wish I could write a post on ‘How to make good, unprofessional videos at the wedding’. But I am not an expert :( We, girls know that it’s a tough job to stand still in high hill shoes, pushed by the crowds of people. Here in ET I have the advantage of the high, which only annoys people behind me (Ups). Moreover, I am quite an aggressive photographer ;)- to take a good shot I squeeze in, climb, jump and even risk being arrested! (Oh yes). Unfortunately, the pictures often turn out to be not as good as I was hoping anyway.
However, as a picture is worth a thousand words and a movie even more I hope you can find out a bit more about the Ethiopian Wedding. Enjoy!
A Wedding is definitely one of the most colorful and glorified events that happen in Ethiopia. It has its long history, with arranged marriages, still present in the rural arias. In the big cities, however, there is little left from the traditional celebration. It is striking how strongly it is affected by the North- American culture. The international dress of the bride is not as surprising as the matching outfits of the maids (including make-up, hair style, shoes and accessories!). The next come all the strictly scheduled points of the day with the official guests photo session, cutting the cake tower in the flashes of the camera, first dance or greeting guests while sitting on the thrones. All of that has of course its charm and value. The traditional elements, however, are so much more authentic, natural and beautiful. The very religious couples, for example, are married during the long, night service with lots of religious chanting and blessings. As the ceremony lasts till early morning hours the guests are allowed to have a short nap, for which they sometimes bring GABI. Later this thick cotton blanket can serve as a wrap or a pillow :)
The popes play an important role in the ceremony as each part of the program starts with a prayer. Not before the priests’ procession around the food tables, where they raise their crosses to bless the meal, can the feast start.
During the last wedding I really enjoyed the atmosphere of togetherness. Somehow the 400 guests were not divided either by origin, age or financial status. Everyone mingled in the line to the food tables or on the dance floor. And the dancing… that is something worth waiting for!
Darik, are you ready? The last corrections before the Big Entrance :)
The most popular wedding dish is KITFO, raw or medium done minced meat, served with different types of cottage cheese.
Tej is a honey-wine dink which wins the popularity competition in ET with beer and all the other alcohols. Do I like it? Hmmm… I think I stick with good red wine :)
In the near future I am planning to cover all Ethiopian celebrations I had a chance to attend throughout the last year. You have read about Fasika (Easter), EASTER and Genna (Christmas). Soon I will also write about an extraordinary holiday called Meskal, which takes place in September and Timakat– which is celebrated right now.
Yesterday it hit me: It has been one year since my graduation, or more precise- the final presentation ( I don’t even know exactly when my graduation was, as I was not in Pl any more, which means I’ll never have pictures in a graduation toga …:( buhuu ).
This year was extremely intensive and successful. Even though my African adventure will come to an end in a couple of months, I’ll leave this continent with many fruit, not only research, knowledge and experience, but most of all friendships. I am NOT saying good bye yet, just want to thank my European friends, who pushed me into making bigger steps and supported me throughout the passed year. :*
The last days were full of reasons to dress nice, go out, meet friends and have a drink. Apart from the wedding, which I’m going to write about later, there was a Birthday, two anniversaries and a visit of a good friend, Suse!
It wasn’t the easiest thing to celebrate Birthday on a day full of different teaching responsibilities. A chair meeting, table critiques, submissions, a film plan setting… and the work finished just after 6pm with a midterm presentations of our 6th year students.
At least we managed to have a nice breakfast in a Bilos cafe, a great dinner in an Amsterdam restaurant (the only place I’m not afraid to order a salad) and a couple of drinks in a Black Rose bar.
By the way: have you ever tried a margarita from a plastic cocktail glass? Weird! I also have a feeling that the salt holds to the plastic much better than to the glass as I had tons of it at the edge. Moreover, I got no straw to drink it, so I literally had to make my way through the salty ‘crown’ to take a sip! I’m sorry for such a dramatic description, which will unfortunately stay in my memory for a little while… ;)
All in all it was a great, active day with lots of laughter and fun. I think that the B-day Boy was happy as well :)
Have you ever been in a situation when you looked at the events in a slow motion thinking ‘Oh God, I could have been there/ It could have been me…’? On our way to lunch today we stopped for a few seconds in front of the car to check if there is someone joining us. Suddenly we heard a loud cracking sound and then watched a HUDGE tree branch break above the car. My mind was screaming: ‘Not on the car, PLEASE don’t fall on the caaaaar!’, while watching the branch falling and falling and falling in the SLOW MOTION. And then BAM! It landed 30cm from the vehicle.
If I hadn’t stopped for a short while and had gone to the passenger doors, waiting for it to be opened…. you could have probably looked at much more dramatic pictures right now ;) I hope that you are not disappointed, though :)
This was indeed an interesting Xmas. Apart from deserted streets and tons of kitschy decorations, there was nothing special about this holiday. I was suspecting that the secret and the true essence of Ethiopian Christmas will be noticeable behind the doors of the private houses. What a surprise it was to find out that again it is all about being with the family and… eating! The Abyssinians cherish every reason to spend more effort and time to prepare sophisticated dishes. After days of consuming Shiro and Firfir it is finally time for Doro Wot- chicken stew and maybe even beloved Kitfo- best quality minced beef, mixed with spices. To be honest, none is my favorite and I still prefer ordinary Bozena Shiro or Tibs <3 However, Kitfo is known to be the best dish during the wedding feast, and as we are invited to two such celebrations I will have a chance to change my mind.
Good apetite :)
Here are some pictures from Sunday’s Brunch. The dish choice was not even close to the traditional one, but still very satisfying.
Cafe Bunni, owned by a good friend Egzi, not only serves delicious food but also offers an amazing panorama of Addis Ababa.I would be glad to write a bit more about it next time :)
The Catholic Three Kings’ Holiday is the Christmas Day in the Orthodox Church.
In Ethiopia, the celebrations begin at night; when all churches turn up the volume and join in the loud, lyrical prayers, which last till early morning hours. Yesterday, the whole city was almost flooded with thousands of sheep and the citizens trying to buy the nicest one.
What are the traditions, extremes and similarities between our Xmas Holidays? I cannot wait to find out myself! Till then!
As some of you know, this year my X-mas tree had some African accents, which I produced at the Uni with a laser cutter. While searching for an inspiration, I run across pretty nice designs, which you can see here. What do you think?
In Addis I did exactly the opposite and decorated the house with a few modern elements, which I bought in Poland on sale :) How nice of the Ethiopians to give us the reason to hang them :)
Today, our landlords gave us some traditional bread and …. pop corn as a Christmas sharing tradition. In the picture you can see a tiny crib, which I bought a few weeks ago in a souvenir- shop :)