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Inside Eritrean Weddings And How Marriage Ceremonies Are Used To Build The Community | KOKO Brides
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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    Inside Eritrean Weddings And How Marriage Ceremonies Are Used To Build The Community

    Eritrean traditional wedding celebrations are colourful and full of festivities.

    The blossom month of September where many holidays are reserved in the Eritrean calendar, Eid Al Adha, September 1st the national day to remember the beginning of the armed struggle in 1961, Geez New Year and Meskel or the Holy Cross is often the start of wedding season.

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    Beles, the cactus seasonal fruit and the diaspora called after it, are starting to return to their homelands.


    Through time, this period of the year has become the hub of wedding festivities where newlyweds and their guests dance under the heavy rain of July to August.

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    Weddings in Eritrea are beautiful and, yet, a whole long process. Today, let us look at how Tigrigna tradition wedding is observed.

    Looking into the city of Asmara, people usually are amazed to witness a number of wedding rental shops, tailors rushing to finish of the orders zurias or telfis, the traditional Tigrigna white dresses. Young men accompanying the groom going around the marketplace to choose the right suits which has to go in line with the bride’s choice of colour.

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    Yellow, purple, blue, the “theme” of the wedding is very important for the bride as it will decide on the venue decoration, colour of the wedding invitations, colour of the car’s ribbon and the list goes on.

    The bride and her bridesmaids, sisters, sisters-in-law is also out and about. Going to places to find the right jewellery, the traditional shoes to match the traditional dresses, buying hair extension used for braiding, making the adjustment of the wedding dress where usually the bride will have to adjust it a few time.

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    As the wedding day approaches, she tends to loose on weight, similarly the groom too! Then comes the family members, brothers and sisters who also have to make sure that their outfit is one point is also another task for the future bride and groom.

    Another stress to add on to the list! Friends are coming from abroad who wants to visit the country as well as spend time with the newlyweds has to be added in one’s schedule. The fathers, on their side, are making sure that relatives and friends are not forgotten from the invitation list while the mothers keep on adding people and asking the newlyweds “can we have more invitations please”.

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    Always hard to say no to them that when you planned to have perhaps 100 invitees you end up with a thousand and yet, you couldn’t invite your own friends!

    Another important process in this beauty of weddings is the food and beverage preparation. It is actually the most important part and most guests would say “suwa, mies and food were great, it was a wonderful wedding”, or if you are not lucky, “mmh no, it wasn’t that good, suwa wasn’t even drinkable” (although they would have danced the whole night).

    In fact, Eritreans are quite strict on such matters and it is part of the culture to always “say something”, you just get used to it. Therefore, more often, families prefer to hire a professional cook while friends of the mothers, aunties and grandmothers are present to give a hand.

    Suwa, the traditional drink made of a mix of grains such as millet and sorghum; the making is long. It requires time and strong monitoring in addition to the wonderful chants of those women combined with traditional coffee to give some energy.

    Mies another traditional booze made of fermented honey and very appreciated by young women for its sweet taste. Suwa, especially, and Mies are “a must” in weddings. Then comes the injera making process, the yeast-risen flatbread is basic for Eritrean dishes.

    Eritrean weddings usually include two days of celebration. The first day focused on the Catholic wedding ceremony usually where the bride is beautifully fitted into a white gown.

    Then comes the traditional Eritrean wedding ceremonies are done on the second day of the wedding celebration; this is known as the Melsi.

    Different from most other weddings, the Eritrean culture and weddings are about community-building; for six months leading up the wedding, both families will get together to cook, prepare, and make traditional drinks including Sewa (a beer-like alcohol) and mes (a fermented honey drink). And of course, these six months are also full of singing and dancing.

    Although these cultural attributes have been watered down from time to time and in further apart location with modern technology changing lifestyles, there are still lots of families that practice these traditional attributes.

    Photo Credit: Getty

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