Ethiopian Culture

Ethiopian culture is multi ethnic, multilingual and multifaceted, and it reflects diversity in culture and respect for traditional customs. In Ethiopian culture, people have great respect for elders and they will leave their seat or bed for any standing elders even if it is one year old family member.


The music of Ethiopia is diverse including range of sounds and rhythm found in various ethnic groups. Folk music dominates the culture and religious music is also common especially in Christians and Muslims. A special Muslims musical form called manzuma is played in northeastern Ethiopia in Wollo. Musical instruments such as masinko, krar, negarit(a drum), lyre, musical bows, bamboo flute, Trumpet, sistrum and drums are used in various musical forms. There are many orchestra brands in the country and some of the famous musicians are Mahmoud Ahmed, Bizunesh Bekele, Alemayehu Eshete, Ali Birra and Hirut Bekele.


The traditional cloth of Ethiopian woman is called shemma, which is used to make habesha qemis , a kind of women dress. It is a cotton cloth 90 cm long sewn together, sometimes, with shiny threads to give the bright elegant effect. Shawls are commonly worn to different occasions and men wear knee length shirt having a white collar and sometimes, sweater. Use of heavy embroidery and jewelry of gold and silver is also found in Ethiopian culture.


There is a host of traditional costumes which the people of Ethiopia have. Women of Tigray and Amhara generally wear ‘Sheruba’, a type of plait worn by Ethiopian women on their hair.  Today a number of designer dresses are worn in Ethiopia and western dresses have replaced traditional clothing. Traditional dresses are now only seen during religious ceremonies or festivals.


The Ethiopian cuisine includes arrange of vegetables and meat based dishes which are prepared as thick stew or wat. Most of the Ethiopians are adhered to Orthodox Church, Islam or Judaism and hence, eating pork is strictly prohibited.


There are several languages spoken in the country of Ethiopia. There are about 83 languages in the country, and these languages are broadly categorized into four primary groups- namely the Cushitic, the Semitic, the Nilo-Saharan and the Omotic. What’s more, in Ethiopian language, there are more than two hundred dialects, which once again confirms Ethiopia as a truly multi ethnic country. Amharic is the semantic language which is also the official language of the country and it is spoken by 27 million people of the country. It has been written in Ge’ez script and it is used by the Beta Israel Jewish community and Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The second largest language of the country is Oromo language.


Ethiopian government controls majority of media sections including the TV and the radio, and there are nine radio broadcast stations in the country which have been given license by the government to operate. The single broadcast network in the country is Ethiopian Television, while, radio broadcast is provided in many languages. The print media serves only a section of literate population and the leading newspaper of the country are the Daily Monitor, Addis Zemen, and the Ethiopian Herald.


The common Ethiopian festivals are – Timkat-Feast of the Epiphany, Enkutatash, Maskal and Kullubi. Timkat-Feast of the Epiphany is a three day festival which is taken part by ten commandants from church and a procession of tabots is taken to the church. On September 11, New Year (Enkutatash) is celebrated in Ethiopia which marks the end of rains as the regions is covered by wild flowers and children wear new clothes and people participate in dancing and singing.





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