Photo by Anthony Pappone Photography (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronnyreportage/)
Best wishes to everyone celebrating Easter this weekend.
Easter in Ethiopia, known as Fasika is celebrated according to the Orthodox or Eastern church calendar. Some years it falls on the same day as in the western church, but this year it is as far apart as it can be.
Fasika is a Ge’ez (the ancient liturgical language of Ethiopia) word and also the word in Amharic and Tigrinya for Easter. Easter is sometimes called Tensae a Ge’ez word meaning to rise). It is one of the most important holidays in Ethiopia marking the end of a long 55 day Lenten fast. On Easter Sunday chicken, cheep, goats and cattle are dispatched for the pot as the fasting comes to an end in no uncertain terms.
There is a lot of fasting in Ethiopia with 180 days of fasting through the year (almost half the year is fasting) and more for priests and monks and the like who fast for 250 days a year. Fasting means abstaining from and meat or dairy produce. Fish was traditionally allowed but it is now common for many to exclude fish too.
Following Easter there is no fasting for one month until the regular Wednesday and Friday fasts restart.
Hailay (Tesfa Tours driver) peeling a prickly Pear – Beles fruit!
As Baloo sings in the Jungle Book –
Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear Try to use the claw
But you don’t need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw.
The peeled Beles fruit – no more prickles!
The season for these tasty fruit starts in May, but you are best advised to let someone who knows how to peel it (as you do not have Baloo’s claws!). So why not come up after Fasika (Ethiopian Easter) and walk through the beautiful Agame mountains around Adigrat, famed for their tasty ‘Beles’ fruits.
It is also the season of priest parties (for two weeks after Fasika)- when householders entertain their local priests to congratulate them on getting through the rigours of another fasting season. Local beer and spicy ‘Teh’lo’
Tehlo ceremony in Tigray
(meat in red sauce with balls of barley) is served and everyone celebrates the season. You will undoubtably be invited in as a guest of honour.
So come and be a guest of the local villagers in the Agame mountains this May.
The Cactus in flower in the Agame mountains,
Tigray offers great walking with wonderful views
What are your plans for the school break at the end of May? How about a few days walking as a guest of the communities in Wollo or Tigray.
The rains are far less as you travel north and in Tigray the soil is sandy so there is no mud. Most rain happens in the evening if at all. But the little that has fallen has greened up the landscape a bit. In Tigray it is also the start of the Prickly Pear season.
Tehlo ceremony in Tigray, a common celebration meal at the priest parties
So why not come along and let the villagers show you how life is in the countryside and blow the Addis cobwebs out of the system. You will return with batteries fully recharged!
A 3 night walking holiday for a family of 4 people (2 adults, 1 teenager and 1 child under 12) will cost $635.00 USD including meal, guide and local drinks.
Transport in Tigray in a good condition 4WD from airport (Axum or Mekele) to trek and back to airport will cost $225 USD. On the way in and out why not take in a rock church- one of the
Kids enjoy riding (& feeding) horses on the trek
many in Tigray.
In Wollo transport from and back to Lalibela airport or town will cost up to $150USD depending on the trekking route (using a minibus).
While up in Lalibela or Tigray why not add a day to see the sites. We can make arrangements for hotels, lodges and guides.
Mequat Mariam Scones for breakfast
Fasika – Easter, is over for another year. Sunday saw the piles of sheep skins on street corners, to be picked up by small dealers in trucks. For the days leading up to Easter flocks of sheep and goats as well as herds of oxen were driven by herders into the city, chickens were driven in trucks and pick ups. They are sold at impromptu markets all over the city to be slaughtered in back yards. Prices of livestock easily double for Easter, with sheep were costing over $100 USD, chickens over $10 USD. Sheep come to Addis with drovers bringing them across country from several hundred miles away, across Shoa and even as far as Wollo.
So the fasting is done, in fact there is no fasting now, even on Wednesdays and Fridays until after Pentecost (this year that means until June). In the countryside the end of the fasting is celebrated in different ways. In Tigray priests are feted with parties held by different households from their parish. In Wollo I have seen the girls making swings from rope to hand off trees and play on them singing songs, while the boys have javelin contests. Its also a second wedding season as people like to get married before the rainy season and after the fasting.
As you know this year there were two Christian Easters with the Orthodox Easter (Fasika) falling one week after the western Easter. The dates for both the Orthodox and Western Easters move around March and April and can even appear in May, but quite often they also coincide. Next year however, in 2016, the two Easters will be far apart with western Easter falling on 27th March and the Orthodox celebration will be on 1st May. Yet in 2017 both will be on the same day.