Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrating Fasika (Ethiopian Easter) with Student Interns

Happy Ethiopian Easter!
Yesterday marked the Ethiopian Easter, which means the breaking of the intense 56-day fasting over Lent, when no meat or any animal products, including milk and butter are eaten by all practicing Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.

I was on that student trip when this long-fasting season began, and had experienced about a week of fasting from meat with the habesha's (local Ethiopians) and with their very limited cuisine as it is, it could be tedious. There's always meat, of course. Ethiopia has a good number of Muslim population, and other Christian denominations, Roman Catholic, Protestants, and an ever-growing number of expatriates and tourists, so there can't be no meat. In Dire Dawa, particularly, the Muslim population (Somalis, mostly) is quite huge -- so you can be sure to still find macchiato (it has milk, no!) and shukla tibs even during fasting season. Most Christian meat shops (marked with red cross signs), though, are closed for the full 56-day period.

But, so, finally -- comes Easter. Quite different from how we celebrate it back in the Philippines, what with the Holy Week activities that lead up to the sugat and family beach outings on Easter Sunday (no, Easter eggs, nope). I don't know the details of how they celebrate Easter or the Holy Week in the close quarters of their churches, course, but the social celebrations, we see are mostly involved around gathering with family and friends and celebrating it through a feast of the signature Ethiopian feast food doro wat (Ethiopian spicy chicken stew) and all the Ethiopian trappings (injera, bread, coffee ceremony, and in Dire Dawa and hereabouts, the ubiquitous chat).

But here's the lowdown of Fasika from Wikipedia:
Ethiopian Easter, or Fasika, takes place in Orthodox Churches throughout the country, and follows the eastern method of calculating Easter, thus tending to fall after Easter in the Western calendar (some years both fall on the same date). Fasika is a much more important festival than Christmas, since the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is more significant in Orthodox theology than .his birth. Jesus' crucifixion which led to his death on a Friday, according to Orthodox thought was for the purpose of fulfilling the word of God, and led to the conquest of death and Jesus' resurrection from the tomb after three days, the third day being the Sunday when Ethiopian Easter is celebrated. 

So during Ethiopian feast days, we always get invitations from friends and colleagues to celebrate such a holiday or holy day with them. For Fasika, we got our invites for Easter Monday. The student interns who were absorbed by the Architecture Department Architectural Design Office (after unable to find appropriate internship placements for them) decided to have their own "office" celebration and invited their mentor and supervisor Architect Luzzette and I.

It was fun. And weird. (Because, student-teacher camaraderie are not as lax here, compared to back home where we can be pals with students, if you're that kind of teacher, the cool, hip professor. Which I was, I am, but then we're in Ethiopia, so...) But fun. And the doro wat was delicious.

But, made me think, now I gotta invite them to some soiree in my house or some place to give back the favor. See, cool teacher.

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