Easter and the Holy Week

Posted: April 29, 2016 in Ethiopia - the Secret of Africa

No significant festival is celebrated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church during Lent. Dabra Zeit (Mount Olive’s Day) is observed halfway through Lent in commemoration of the Miracles performed by Christ at Mount Olives. This day is celebrated with special consideration at an old church of Sama Senbet, in Eastern Showa. While the exact date of the Second Advent or the last judgment is a mystery, there are two presiding opinions; one is that Christ will appear on Dabra Ziet in the year of St. John. The second opinion is that He will appear during Pagumen (the 13th Months of Ethiopia).

The main holiday of Easter commemorates the resurrection of Christ and the break of Lent. There are a number of events to be observed for about two weeks: one before Easter and another one after Easter. The week before Easter is known as Himamat or the holy week to remind the thirteen types of sufferings of Christ before the crucifixion. According to the church category, the suffering represents the following:

  1. His hands fastened behind;
  2. Beaten by legs;
  3. Carried the Cross upon which He was crucified
  4. Fallen several times while travelling carrying the cross,
  5. Slapped on his face;
  6. Tied by rope and pulled & pushed;
  7. Beaten by stick on His head;
  8. Put thorn on His head;
  9. Speared on his ribs;
  10. Crucified;
  11. Nailed
  12. Was forced to take myrrh and bile;
  13. His clothe was took off and divided among the Jews.

Easter reminds those of the cleansing of Sinners and their liberation and transformation from the heel to heaven through the resurrection of Christ. In other words by the resurrection of Christ, it is believed that the souls of all the believers who died before are said to have been kept in hell are transferred to heaven.

Hosa’ena (Palm Sunday): commemorates the entrance of Christ to a temple in Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, spreading Zenbaba (Palm) on the road, and escorated by many adults and babies. The palm given at each church on this day represents his palm and the day is known as Palm Sunday. This day is observed in all churches.

Siklet (Good Friday): Good Friday commemorates the crucification. Medhane Alem (Holy Savior) is also observed on the 27th of each Ethiopian month to remember the crucifixion. But since Good Friday always falls during the holy week, and no colorful ceremonies are observed during this week.

Kidam Se’hur: Even though Saturdays and Sundays are exempted from fasting, Saturday is violated in two cases. One is for gad on the eves of Genna and Timket. The other one is for akflot on the eve of Easter.  This Saturday is known as Kidam se’hure. Se’hur means violated in Geez and it is used to mean violated Saturday as it is fasting day for the whole day unlike other Saturdays.  The fasting on this day is attributed to the say of Christ in His ‘grave’ from Good Friday to Easter so that Christians associate their fasting with this commemoration.

This fasting was begun by St. Mary, St. John the Apostle and St. Job the Apostle, who were on the spot when Christ was crucified. They decided not to eat anything from the time of His ‘burial’ to the resurrection. Hence, their fasting was for two days; Friday and Saturday. Some devoted Christian still observes it by fasting on both days of Friday and Saturday. The beginning of this fasting is also attributed to the Apostles and the reasons for the beginning are the same with the above one. According to this information, Jacob the Apostle had taken the initiatives and followed by others.





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