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Fasika, Ethiopian Orthodox Easter

Easter in Ethiopia

Last Sunday, April 16th, Ethiopians celebrated Easter, or “Fasika,” the word for Easter in Amharic.  This celebration occurred one week after Westerners celebrated the holiday, and it is a larger production than the West’s Easter because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers the death and resurrection of Jesus more important than any other time in his life.

The Fasika festival begins 55 days before Ethiopian Easter Day. Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia fast from meat and animal products during these 55 days. This practice is similar to the 40 days of fasting during Lent observed by many Western Christians.

On Good Friday, Ethiopians attend a morning church service. Then, on Saturday night, they attend the main service of the festival, the Paschal Vigil. During this time, they will bow down and rise until they are too tired to continue. Also, this is a time of somber music and dancing until the early morning. At 3 a.m., they return home to break their fast with their families.

After a rest, the family will slaughter a sheep, symbolizing the sheep in the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Old Testament. God asked Abraham to slaughter his only son, Isaac, but He provided a sheep to take Isaac’s place just as Abraham drew his knife. This story foreshadowed how God would send His only son to become the sacrificial lamb for the world.

Our girls at Bete Hosanna typically celebrate with a large meal, including a sheep. They often invite a few friends (or if they have an actual blood relative sister, which some do) from the government orphanage. They dress in traditional Ethiopian dresses, as shown in the photo at the top of this article.

Are you interested in learning more about our projects in Ethiopia? Visit the special projects page of our website. You can even apply to go on a mission trip to Ethiopia!


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