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ET Facts (taken from forum posts)

Common ET animals - cows, mules, donkeys, goats, horses, chickens, dogs (scarey)
Child’s first name given by parents or nannies, middle name is the birthfather’s first name,
last name is the birthfather’s last name or birthmother’s father’s first name (if she isn’t
Hugs are not the norm in ET. Women shake hands while holding onto their own forearm
to show respect or shake hands and bump cheeks to show affection.
Repeat whatever kissing gesture is made to you
In Addis, you'll notice people greeting each other kissing one another on the cheek, usually two kisses, one on each side. In Hosanna, there are more like 5 or 6 kisses, alternating sides. We were only prepared for 2, so there were some awkward moments when we exchanged greetings with our son's birthmother, becuase we kept stopping and she kept going. It was humorous and not a problem, but I mention it because the first time it happened, I misinterpreted it, thinking that the birth mother was so overcome with emotion that she couldn't stop kissing me

Men shake hands and bump shoulders (same shoulders as the hands they are shaking with)
If they think their hands are too dirty for you to shake them, they may offer you their wrist
or elbow for you to touch
Traditional hand washing dish brought after eating.
Tuko - traditional home
Page 14 in Hosanna trip power point is a bus station
Teff - grain, will see mounds of teff along road, for injera
Injera - flat bread, most dishes are served on top of it and pieces of it are used to pick
up morsels of food.
80 million people in Ethiopia
Mother typically takes care of the house, children and animals
Father usually has an outside job
Outside jobs for women include making baskets, cooking or cleaning other people’s
Potters are looked down upon
No birth control
If a woman is raped or an unwed woman gets pregnant, it is a disgrace to the family
She can’t get married
Kembata marriage - the would-be husband gives clothes to the bride, and a buluko
(traditional blanket) and honey to her parents
Both boys and girls are circumcised before they are 10
Mourning period is 7-9 days after death
Folks in rural areas will know the date even if they don't have a printed calendar. Maybe not the exact date, but roughly. Fasting days are very important (they happen twice a week) and there are tons of holidays, so typically an Ethiopia would be aware of the date, give or take a day (like how on Saturday you might say, is today the 8th or 9th).
1st (Sep 11/12-Oct 10/11) masaalá / mosoroomá
2nd (Oct 11/12-Nov 9/10) xiqintá
3rd (Nov 10/11-Dec 9/10) hidaará
4th (Dec 10/11-Jan 8/9) xisaasá
5th (Jan 9/10 -Feb 7/8) xirrá
6th (Feb 8/9 -Mar 9) zakkaatiitá
7th (Mar 10 -Apr 8) maggaabiitá
8th (Apr 9 -May 8) shaashshigá
9th (May 9 -Jun 7) gimbootá /gilbootá
10th(Jun 8 -Jul 7) sanée-ta
11th(Jul 8 -Aug 6) hamilée-ta
12th(Aug 7 -Sep 5) nahaasée-ta
13th(Sep 6 -Sep 10) phaaguumée-ta / qaaguumée-ta
(My basic Kembata language reference/source is a PhD dissertation on Kembata grammar sent to me by its author). I'm not aware of any English-Kembata dictionaries.

Palm Sunday - wear traditional white clothes called yabesha libs, eat large sourdough
bread called dabo, On Easter morning, the bread is cut, after saying a prayer, by the
man of the house. Every visitor to the house gets a slice.

Easter is called Fassika

Enkutatash (ET New Year) is Sept. 11th - celebrates both the new year and the end of the
long rains in spring, when the highlands become covered in wild flowers. Children
dressed in new clothes dance through the villages, distributing garlands and tiny
paintings. In the evening, there is singing and dancing. The girls wear dresses and
carry flowers and drums.
Meskel (Finding of the True Cross)

Meskel is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Damera". Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17 Ethiopian calendar (September 27 Gregorian calendar), 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena.

According to tradition, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region. The monastery of Gishen Mariam holds a volume of a book which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired.

Meskel, meaning cross, is one of the most important festivals in Ethiopia, a huge feast celebrating the legendary finding of the True Cross on which Christ is said to have been crucified. It has a long history and was reputedly first celebrated in AD 326.
There are three main accounts of how the True Cross was found. First, there is the tale of how the Empress Helena, Constantine the Great's mother, set off for Jerusalem to find the "life-giving cross". After a great many tests and challenges she forced the Jews to tell her where she might find it (under the hill of Golgotha).

The second account, which is the most popular, tells how Helena went off on her search but rather than the Jews telling her where the cross was, she found it by lighting incense and following the smoke as it descended to Earth. The third account attributes the find to Queen Sheba, who some say had one foot "like that of an ass", which was cured by stumbling on a piece of wood which formed part of the cross.

The precise form of the celebrations varies from place to place. In the central highlands, the festival begins on Meskel eve by planting a green tree in town squares and village marketplaces. Everyone brings a pole topped with the beautiful yellow Meskal daisies, which are abundant in Ethiopia at the end of the rains, placed to form a towering pyramid which is then set alight.

In Addis, large crowds gather in Meskel square near the Church of Saint George. A colorful procession gathers around the huge pyramid and the torch bearers set it alight. Feasting, drinking, dancing and flirting continue until dawn. when the central pole of the pyramid falls, marking the climax of the event. The next day people return to the fire to make the sign of the cross in the remaining ashes.

In the southern lands of the Oromo, Gurage, Kambata, Hadiya, Welayta and Gamo people, the feast is the most important event of the year and lasts for at least a week!

At my daughter's school they made paper daisies to celebrate Meskel and our family's heritage. It might give you a chance to discuss a really interesting holiday in Ethiopia that celebrates the cross. In ET, they weave a cross from Meskel daisies to put atop a burning cone of wood sticks (can't remember the name of the cone). We don't burn the daisy cross at our house (burning crosses don't really translate culturally), but we're handing out packets of daisy seeds to grow daisies in coming years and weave into a meskel (cross) in coming Septembers. Also, in our kids' birth region, they celebrate major transitions/accomplishments within the community (i.e., married women are recognized in relation to their new "status," as are new community leaders), so we are sending out a Meskel letter, in lieu of the Christmas letter we never get around to sending, with an accomplishment selected by each family member to announce. Perhaps some of these ideas might help you to put something together for the kids. I'm not sure what you could make for the kids in ET, but I'm sure some of the crafty people on this forum will help you out with that!

Here's some info I found from

Ethiopian Christmas (Genna)
Christmas, called Lidet, is not the primary religious and secular festival that it has become in Western countries. Falling on 7 January, it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another. Traditionally, young men played a game similar to hockey, called genna, on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name.
Ethiopian Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia and falls on January 7, instead of December 25. Unlike the rest of the world Genna is devoid of Santa Claus and Christmas trees. But more recently the trend has been changing where Christmas trees have slowly started creeping into Ethiopian households where many people started using decorating trees even if there is still no Santa Claus stories told, giving and receiving gifts is also not a big deal among the people rather new clothes are bought for children as a present on the holiday.
Genna is followed by one month long fast. It is said that Legend has it that among the Magi the king bearing frankincense as gift to baby Jesus was King Balthazar of Ethiopia. The day before Genna, people fast all day. The next morning at dawn, everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians do a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly coloured stripes across the ends. After the mass in church families get together to take part in the holiday feast which include doro wot, tela (homemade traditional beer) and Defo Dabo (bread made for holidays). As done in many holidays’ people visit relatives and spend the holiday feasting together.
Christmas is a holiday where many people come together especially in recent times Ethiopian Diaspora come for the holiday in an attempt to not only enjoy Genna, but also celebrate Timket (Epiphany), considered one of the biggest holidays of the year which is just two weeks away from Genna.
In rural areas people play yegena chewata; Ethiopia’s version of hockey which is played using carved stick and kind of rounded ball where men and young boys participate in the game – at times the rivalry can be fierce. There are also songs which are sung to show how people appreciate the game ‘begenna chewata aykotum geta’ at times the rivalry can be fierce. According to tradition, shepherds celebrated when they heard of Jesus birth by playing such a game.
Written by Tibebeselassie Tigabu for the Sub-Saharan Informer

Epiphany (Timket)
Timket, feast of Epiphany is the greatest festival of the year falling on the 19 January just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair beginning on the eve of Timket with dramatic and colourful processions. The following morning the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily. The sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the festival of Timket always takes place in glorious weather.

We were there for Timkat two years ago and it was one of our best memories from our travel time there. We were in Bahir Dar and followed the procession to the main square. Our guides from Travel Ethiopia walked us along the route with the thousands of residents of Bahir Dar. Bahir Dar has 9-11 churches (I think) that make the procession which makes for a large parade, but I believe Gondor has one of the most impressive celebrations in all of Ethiopia. However, every church no matter how big the city or how small the village will do the procession to their church.

Timkat is the ET Epiphany and is basically a renewing of their baptismal rites. The night before Timkat all of the churches parade their 'holiest of holies'-their church cross- down to the main square of their town. The procession includes all of the elders and priests of the church dressed in robes and carrying decorative umbrellas. They are proceeded by various other groups of the church. Everyone is chanting, playing drums and the women are singing/yelling. All of the townspeople are dressed in white for both days. Everyone stays overnight in the square and the next morning renew their baptismal rites and then proceed back to their churches. Also, Timkat is sort of like their valentine's day...its the only day that young people are allowed to venture out on their own without their parents. Boys throw limes at their chosen girl of interest to show their interest in them.

The Ethiopian government recently released the summary results of the May 2007 census.
I've extracted some data on the SNNP Region that might be of interest to those of us here. In the last census, they released detailed crosstabs by kebele
National Population
1984 39,868,572
1994 53,477,265
2007 73,918,505

Population by Region
Addis Ababa 2,738,248
Afar 1,411,092
AMHARA 17,214,056
Dire Dawa 342,827
GAMBELLA 306,916
Harari 183,344
OROMIYA 27,158,471
SNNP 15,042,531
SOMALI 4,439,147
Special Region 96,570
TIGRAY 4,314,456
COUNTRY TOTAL 73,918,505

SNNP by Religion
Total Urban Rural
Orthodox 2,995,555 596,600 2,398,955
Protestant 8,346,046 698,997 7,647,049
Catholic 362,229 27,674 334,555
Muslim/Islam 2,118,977 197,044 1,921,933
Traditional 992,699 10,832 981,867
Others 227,025 14,563 212,462

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which is made up of 12 months with 30 days in it and a 13th month of 5 days (6 days in a leap year).

Their calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar with Christmas being celebrated on January 7 and New Year on September 11....

Ethiopia has claim to the biblical Ark of the Covenant, carefully guarded by familial priest. (The current priest is actually considering unveiling it !)

Coffee, or buna (boo-na) is Ethiopia's largest export - over $350 million in 2006.

Ethiopia has a total population estimated at approximately 70 million and is home to more than 80 ethnic groups and a wide diversity of languages. More than 80% of the population live in rural areas.
Fun Fact: The capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa, which means "New Flower". Population of Addis Ababa is about 3 MILLION!

The temperature in Addis Ababa was 68 degrees today and partly cloudy!!

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa. The life Expectancy is 42 years.

The alphabet used in Ethiopia is derived from Hebrew and Sabean and is called G’eez. It has nearly 300 letters - including seven vowels. All spelling is phonetical.

Eighty-five percent of workmen are farmers with the crops/products mainly being: coffee, oilseed, sugarcane, cereals, potatoes, khat, hides, sheep and goats.
The gross national income is one hundred dollars per year

Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, the nearly 40% complete skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis specimen discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression.

An important part of Ethiopian culture is their religion. Religious influences include mainly Christianity and muslim religions. Ethiopian Orthodox has the largest following (45%) with Sunni muslims being the 2nd largest group.

Emperor Haile Selassie is buried in Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. Definitely worth a visit!!

Ethiopia is mountainous with desert lowlands to the northeast and southeast and has been landlocked since Eritrea, bordering the Red Sea, gained its independence in 1993.

There are over 80 languages.

The official flag of Ethiopia consists of three equal and horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands. The yellow pentagram on the blue disk, also known as the National Coat of Arms, is a symbol of the current government; it is intended to reflect the desire of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, as well as of its religious communities, to live together in unity and equality.

Information obtained from the following website:

Ethiopia's size is 1,127,127 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US.

"Lucy" got her name because the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was playing on a boombox when she was discovered!

From Trip Advisor: The food and drink of Ethiopia reflects the many different cultures. A typical dish is Wot, a hot spicy stew of meat or vegetables, seasoned with a blend of Berbere (chillie powder). It is made with Doro (chicken), and normally served with Injera, the traditional spongy pancake made from a fermented Teff flour batter.Ethiopia produces its own wines; Dukam and Gouder are fine reds, while Axumite is sweeter. Crystals is a dry white wine. The famous honey wine or Tej is found all over the country as is Tela, a local beer, and Katikala, distillated liquor.

The national flower of Ethiopia is the calla lily.

42.7% of the population of Ethiopia (over the age of 15) is literate.

Ethiopia was never colonised, even though from 1935-1941 it was occupied by Mussolini’s Fascists it has remained untainted by colonial powers.
The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr, which is made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in five denominations - 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birr and there are five different coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. One US Dollar is about 9 Ethiopian Birr.

Ethnic groups: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%.
Ethiopia has two main seasons - one is late January to early March when there are irregular short rainy spells.

The other season is June until September with longer periods of heavier rain.

Abebe Bikila, Ethiopian marathon runner, won an Olympic Gold Medal in Rome in 1960, while running barefoot.

"It took a million Italians to invade Ethiopia but only one Ethiopian soldier to conquer Rome."

Enset is one of the major crops in the southern region. It is also known as the "false banana", but the root is the edible part. It takes 4-5 years to mature, but it can provide 40 kg of food. Although the process to make it into food is very time intensive. It is a great crop also because it is drought resistant. The leaves are used for everything from packing food stuff to thatching houses to using as rope. You can see Enset trees in many photos of the southern region.

Addis Ababa has blue taxis and minibuses all over the city. On the minibus a guy hangs his head (and sometimes the upper half of his body) out the side window of the bus and yells the station they are going "Bole, Bole, Bole" and "Gerji, Gerji, Gerji". The same guy is responsible to for taking your fare and giving out change.

Officially waiting for 12-24 month old girl 3/18/08
Referral for K(17 months) 10/6/08
Passed Court 2/11/09
BC 2/16/09
Home!!!!! 4/3/09

Posts: 1,971
WOW! Thanks again!

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Posts: 32
Thank you for compiling all of this information!
dh Casey
LID 4.27.07 for China
Dossier accepted 6.26.08 for Ethiopia
Really hoping that referrals speed up!

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Posts: 1,487
holy moly!!! thank you sooo much! this is great!
Gina and Lou
Amelia (6 3/4) , Tadelech (15 months)
Homestudy Approved 8/9/07
Official Waiting 9/5/07
I-797C Approval 9/13/07
Referral Received 5/22/08
Our Darling Tadelech :)
Court Date 7/7/08
Through Court 7/7/08
ET Birth Certificate 7/24/08
Travel Date 9/4/08
Home Forever 9/12/08!!!
Readoption 5/1/09
B.C. at city hall 6/8/09
C.O.C.- ...
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