Ethiopians Celebrate Easter Holiday

( Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency )

Thousands of Ethiopian Christians are defying tough conditions caused by a dangerous drought to celebrate Easter. Church leaders call for compassion and generosity.

By Addis Getachew | Anadolu Agency

Thousands of Ethiopian Christians are defying tough conditions caused by a dangerous drought to celebrate Easter.

The predominantly Orthodox community celebrates Easter Sunday on May 1 this year – later than the Western Christian calendar – after a 55-day fast from meat, milk, butter and eggs.

Lent in Ethiopia lasts longer than the 40-day period for which Jesus Christ fasted in the wilderness at the start of his ministry, according to Christian theology.

Ethiopians see an extended 15 days during which the clergy and faithful pay homage to kings, heroes and saints, including the nine saints of ancient times who had come from Asia Minor and responsible for expanding the Orthodox across the country.

The country is said to have embraced Christianity in the 4th century CE.

However, this year latest data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), suggests more than 10 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency relief.

A drought, said to be the worst in 50 years, is causing malnutrition and illness.

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Abuna Mathias, called on followers to show generosity and compassion to the less privileged.

Ethiopian Catholic Church head, Cardinal Aba Berhaneyesus, mentioned the lean days of drought facing the country and called on the faithful to celebrate Easter in a spirit of sharing.

During week-long Easter celebrations, families and friends gather together to feast. This year, local media, especially local radio, have been advising people to mind their holiday eating habits.

Dr. Mesafint Abebe, from the Addis Life clinic in the Ethiopian capital city, said the holiday usually sees many people coming for treatment “most of them are diagnosed with gastronomic ailments due to consumption of too much fatty food.”

But this time around, it will be difficult to be joyful. Marketing specialist Mulugeta Getahun told Anadolu Agency that rising prices were causing hardship.

“Everything is expensive, from chicken to lamb to drinks; and add to this the usual new clothes your children expect from you… your head spins,” Getahun said.

A mother-of-four, Elfinesh Birru, shopping at Markato – Africa’s widest open market – said: “Prices are proving to be unbearable.”

“The items to buy are all there in the market; it is people’s capacity to buy them that is in question here,” she said, adding the market places in Addis Ababa do not give people the impression that the country is facing the worst drought in 50 years.