Origin and History of Passover in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is a landlocked country which is located in the Horn of Africa, or northeast Africa, blessed with a rich cultural heritage. The population of Ethiopia consists of a small community of Jews, referred to as Beta Israel or House of Israel. They celebrate all the traditional Jewish festivals with immense galore and merriment. Passover is one such significant Jewish festival which is observed for eight days, commemorating the freedom of Jew slaves from the Egyptian Pharaohs. Although Passover is a Jewish festival, but Ethiopian Jews relate this festival to their own exodus that occurred in 1985. During the Civil War Operation, Moses and Joshua took more than 8,000 Jews from Sudan to a safe-haven in Israel. Since then, they observe this holy festival of freedom with a special significance. In the following segment, explore some traditional customs followed by Ethiopian Jews during Passover.
Local name: Pesach
Ways to celeberate Pesach in Ethiopia
Passover plays a unique significance for Ethiopian Jews, though celebrations are quite alike with the rest of the world. However, the most unique tradition of Passover celebration is breaking all the old household dishes and replacing them with new ones. This practice depicts the thought of destroying all past memories and beginning a new start. Similar to other nations, Ethiopian Jews go on an eight-day fast, avoiding leavened food and consuming their traditional meal consisting of Matzoh (unleavened bread) and Shimbera (a firm and crisp cracker made from chickpeas). During the Passover period, they use special Passover dishes untouched by other foods for having their meals. On the sixth day of Passover, children go door to door collecting treats. All shops and businesses are closed and people indulge in cleaning their houses. Some special dishes prepared on the last day of Passover include qategna, fresh injera, and crepe-like bread, spread with hot pepper sauce. Other than household celebrations, communal meals are also organized boasting of lots of meat items.