Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the Horn of Africa, and is the most populous landlocked country in the world.
It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the northeast of Somalia.
Ethiopia is traditionally orthodox Christian. Hence it’s normal to have a priest bless a couple on the wedding day. Amhara people have Ethiopia’s lowest average marriage age ever at 14 years old. Women can marry once they turn 14 and the groom may be roughly five years the bride’s senior.
Wedding customs in Ethiopia vary among the diverse tribes of the country, and wedding culture in Ethiopia is the most important expressions of each tribe’s culture.
Amhara people are mostly politically and culturally powerful ethnic groups in the country and their wedding traditions are a unique celebration of their culture.
Here we appreciate the beautiful traditional Amhara wedding and will get you to know their engagement process,.
The Proposal: Amhara weddings typically have three types of ceremony: an Eucharist church marriage, a kin-negotiated civil marriage, or a temporary marriage. The most common marriage for the Amhara people is a kin-negotiated civil marriage. Which is a marriage that can only be entered into between a man and a woman.
After a couple get engaged and want to get married. They let the parents know. The grooms parents meet with his fiancé’s parents.
They discuss a dowry (money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage) between one another. A dowry is then made. Dowries in the Amhara tradition often consist of either money or animal such as cows, goats or sheeps.
A dowry is also a security measure that the bride-to be is proposed to and taken.
After the proposal stage, the parents discuss methods of paying for the wedding. After everything is discussed, the engagement is celebrated and the wedding is allowed to happen.
The groom and bride wear the Kaba (traditional attires) on the wedding day.
It is common that most of the brides to wear a white wedding dress and for the groom to wear a suit before covering with the male Kaba as they head to church.
The female guests wear a Habesha Kemis and the Habesha Libs for men. For the bride and the groom it is a tradition for women to wear their best Netela which is a large white cotton scarve.
Couple often go for different designs and colours depending on the taste of the bride and groom, and the theme of the wedding.
The bride also spends several hours’ hair braiding and getting a bridal henna tattoo and gold accessories.
Telosh is a formal event which is two days before the main wedding. The ceremony is held at the bride’s parents’ home and is celebrated by the bride and groom and their families.
The arrival of the groom is a fundamental part of the Ethiopian wedding ceremony. Before the wedding, he prepares himself with the company of his groomsmen. The Bride gets ready in the morning of the wedding with her bridesmaid in her family home.
The bride’s female guests that is in her house then; go outside singing a traditional song that says they will not let anyone in the house. The groom begs the people to let him in to see his bride to be.
The groom then arrives with his groomsmen where they’ll see everyone waiting including the bride.
The ceremony begins by the couple exchanging rings and cutting the cake and champagne is then is opened.
The bride throws gift parcels filled with sweets to the guests.
The bride and groom are led by the flower girls, candle girls, groomsmen and bridesmaids while they are singing traditional Ethiopian wedding songs.
Celebrations include the grooms and bride grandparents dressed in traditional clothes. The groom and bride bow down to thank them and lower down to kiss their feet. This is shown as respect and blessings for prosperity and health.
The bride and the groom are seated after they greet all their guests. The couple receive messages from family and friends not in attendance from all over the world.
The couple take pictures with all of their guests and then is led to the stage for their first dance as a married couple.
Food dishes include spicy dishes mainly meat- and vegetable based food are popular at Amhara weddings. Traditionally, guests also eat kiffo which is raw meat.
Popular dishes also include Lamb, chicken, and beef. Pork is not usually consumed. Traditional food including injera, a spongy flatbread. Popular drinks includes tej, a mead or honey wine, is often served at Amhara weddings.
Eskista is performed at the wedding which is a traditional Ethiopian dance, native to the Amhara region, performed by both men and women usually in a group.
Photo Credit: Getty