Local traditions and culture in Ethiopia

  • Local Customs
    by rosequartzlover1
  • Local Customs
    by DAO
  • Local Customs
    by DAO

Most Viewed Local Customs in Ethiopia

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    How to be a bride of Hamara tribe

    by michwladlip Written Jan 3, 2011

    Before wedding ceremony ,would be bride shaved her hairs and seat in her hut alone just some younger girl of her relatives bring her food ,this loneliness continued for half year,and all time bride ribs in skin mix of butter with red soil , while bride seat in her hut, groom have to prove his braveness by leaping on backs of 10 oxes smeared with oil,if he fail down he can;t married,till he will succeed on this test. I asked our Hamara guide ,after all these tests came first wedding night,
    a bride have to prove her virginity? and he answer me "for what, if she still virgin ,that mean nobody don't wont her"

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    Coffee

    by zuhur Written Jun 5, 2009

    Ethiopian coffee has been my favorite for many years! The highland climate contributes, no doubt.

    I am fascinated by the different coffee-serving traditions -- this is a staple of the bedouin groups all over the Middle East, but here is another slightly different, yet similar way of serving the brew. Not when you enter as in Arab tradition, but after the meal.

    Suggest that you can pick up a large bag of wonderful coffee at the Addis airport if not before you pack.

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    harmful traditional practices

    by zuhur Written Jun 1, 2009

    I went to attend a meeting in Ethiopia on harmful traditional practices that hurt women. While we are concerned with such practices in many parts of the world, some of our Ethiopian representatives spoke about 1) FGM - very problematic , still, in many parts of Africa and also the Middle East and 2) kidnapping and early marriage - which is an abusive custom
    also as in TOO many parts of the world 3) wife-beating

    There is no category below for human rights "travel" - but anyway, seems as important to remember as the fun aspects of the country

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    THE HANDSHAKE OF RESPECT

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2009

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    In Ethiopia, holding your right elbow with your left hand as you shake some else’s hand is a great form of respect. Over time the left hand has made its way forward and some times you will see the left hand as far forward as the right wrist. You will also sometimes see this as you are offered the bill in a restaurant if you have been very pleasant with the servers or they expect a good tip. If you are not seeing this, especially outside of Addis Ababa, you may want to review your manners. If you go to someone’s home for a meal, please do this. It really shows respect to your host(s). And take some Bunha! That’s coffee. It is THE gift to take!

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    not a secular country

    by sphynxxs Written Jan 19, 2009

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    Religion plays a great and important part in Ethiopian life. when you travel across the country you will notice churches are full not only on sundays, but also on weekdays. It also means quite a lot of fasting requirements and a big number of religious holidays (not very good for productive working when people keep them on the countryside) Be respectful when talking about religion. Priests wear very colorful umbrellas during ceremonies, and these umbrellas also make a nice souvenir (not as good against rain though, they are meant to protect against the sun)

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    Ethiopia, a land of many ethnical people

    by georeiser Updated Dec 24, 2008

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    The population in Ethiopia is approximately 80 million, with over eighty different ethnic groups. The Oromo group account for 35% of the population. The Amhara 30% and the Tigreans 10%. Smaller ethnic groups include the Somali, Gurage, Afar, Awi, Welamo, Sidamo, and Beja.

    The women on the photo are Ethiopian Somalis, from the eastern provincial state Harrar of Ethiopia. The photo was taken in Mercato in Addis Ababa.

    There are more than eighty languages in Ethiopia. Amharic is the dominant and official language. English is the most widely spoken foreign language.

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    Shaking hands / Nodding

    by Nautilis Written Nov 5, 2008

    Hands: If you have dirty hands, extend a limp wrist to be shaken by that instead. This is a sign of respect that you don't wish to contaminate your host's hands.

    Nod: A dip of the head when passing chamber maids, door staff etc is a polite mark of respect and acknowledgment

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    FOOD TIP: KITFO

    by DAO Updated Jul 17, 2008

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    For some reason many visitors to Ethiopia want to try this dish as soon as they can. Kitfo (or Ketfo) is raw beef. That’s how it's served. I find this heavy on the stomach and have never had a very good dish in a restaurant. One of my friends made it at home for me and I did find it very tasty. Essentially Kitfo is minced beef marinated in butter with spicy chilli powder and other herbs & spices. It is eaten with injera. My host poured melted butter on top, but that’s as close to heating the dish up as you are going to get.

    If you still want to try this dish do 2 things. Go to a top quality restaurant and order ‘Marhabaroui’. That is a little of everything. Specify that you want Kitfo as one of the portions. Enjoy

    Please note: You can get ‘Special Kitfo’ which is deep fried (last picture). I find that kills the taste.

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    FOOD TIP: TERE SEGA

    by DAO Updated Jul 17, 2008

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    Tere Sega, also known as Gored Gored, means raw meat. This is a special delicacy served at weddings (pictured). Some or all of the carcass is hung to show it’s fresh. Appropriately dressed butchers will choose quality cuts for you and even take requests. They cut off cubes with large sharp knives. You are then offered 2 sauces to go with it: Awazi and Berbere. Awazi is a combination of mustard and chilli while berbere is the spicy red sauce you find in Doro Wat.

    Some restaurants served this and often label it as Gored Gored. You obviously lose the special excitement of a wedding. I would not eat it except in restaurants specialising in this and having it on display. It’s the only way to ensure it’s fresh and clean.

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    THE THREE ETHIOPIAN NAMES

    by DAO Updated Jul 15, 2008

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    Ethiopians do not have last names. In fact – they have 3 first names! Everyone is born with a first name. Their second name is the name of their father. Their 3rd name is that of their grandfather. So if you met Mr. TESFAYE GEBRE MOGUS, he is the son of Gabre and the grandson of Mogus. That’s why women here have 2nd and 3rd names that are always male!

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    THE FLAG

    by DAO Updated Jul 9, 2008

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    The Ethiopian flag was first adopted in 1897, a year after Ethiopia had bravely defended itself from advances by Italy at the Battle of Adwa. It has always had the same 3 colours that have been adopted by other African countries upon independence that the tricolours have become known as the ‘pan-African colours’. It is a true testament to the only African country that was never colonised by a European country.

    The current flag consists of 3 equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays radiating upon light blue disk

    There is a healthy debate as to what the colours represent, but they are generally regarded as:

    GREEN The land and it’s bounty
    YELLOW Peace and harmony between the many tribes of Ethiopia
    RED Blood shed by patriots defending the country
    THE STAR The bright future of Ethiopia and echoes of King Solomon
    YELLOW RAYS They are the same length and represent equality no matter your race, religion or tribe

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    FOOD TIP: INJERA

    by DAO Updated Apr 19, 2008

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    Injera is the basic ingredient of any Ethiopian meal. It looks like a large spongy pancake and some of the sizes produced are huge. It is usually laid down in a large circular tray and sauces, meat and/or vegetables are poured right in the middle. Then you use you right hand (only) to tear pieces off the side and scoop of the wonderful food. It has been described as having a slightly sour taste. I find it’s a sharp taste, but blends in well with sauces to produce a mouth-watering flavour whatever the dish.

    Injera is made from Teff, a small grain packed with calcium, fibre,
    and protein. It is also an alternative for anyone allergic to gluten in wheat. It is also less fattening than wheat.

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    COLLECTING WATER

    by DAO Updated Mar 8, 2008

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    Every morning in Africa you are greeted by the same sight, no matter where you are. I am always in awe of folks going to collect water each morning. Many people do not have indoor plumbing, so there is a walk to the well to get water for the morning bath. Then there is probably another walk for more water for another bath. Then for food. Then for cleaning dishes. Then for cleaning clothes. You see small children carrying impossibly heavy loads of water. This happens every day, often several times a day. I have a lot of respect for these folks. It’s a heavy and often hot job, but there’s always a smile and a wave when you pass by.

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    Carrying firewood

    by mickybleck Written Mar 4, 2008

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    Okay girls, if you thought you are carrying around a heavy backpack, you might rethink now…
    Almost everywhere food is cooked on fire, maybe charcoal, and getting the firewood for cooking is female business. Some of them, i.e. in Addis Abeba do it as a job and sell the wood. In Addis there is even a “wood carrying women’s association” for those who carry the wood down the Entoto Mountain. Although in restaurants and hotels with many visitors wood has been replaced by gas, there are still many hotels where wood or charcoal is used for cooking.

    Due to getting firewood and agriculture most of the north of Ethiopia is deforested – with the corresponding ecological problems as erosion of fertile soil and a lack of water retention. Usually eucalypt trees are used for reforestation, because it grows fast. But it also needs quite a lot of water and draws it with its deeps roots, thus draining ground water reservoirs. There are some field studies with other species being carried out right now (one next to the road to Entoto Mountain).

    If you see forest patches, watch out for a church as cutting trees is forbidden next to them.

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    “FARANJ! FARANJ!”

    by DAO Updated Feb 27, 2008

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    OK. You are being shouted at in public if you are hearing this. It means ‘Foreigner’ and can come across as rude to the unaccustomed. It is almost always meant with the best possible intentions. It’s a way of saying “Hello Visitor”. The best response is to answer “Habesha!” with a smile and a wave ( pronounced: hâbeðâ). You should be met now with smiles and giggles. Habesha is the term Ethiopians call themselves.

    On another note. I had one lady say this to me in a disparaging manner and spit on the ground. It was probably a crazy person. If you have this rare event happen to you, just move on and ignore it. Ethiopians are naturally friendly and hospitable people.

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Ethiopia Local Customs

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