Celebrating Love – Ethiopian Style

This past week, our family had the honor of attending a dear friend’s wedding in Dallas, Texas. I was ecstatic to see this beautiful woman get married, and it was also a blast getting to experience my first Ethiopian-American wedding. My deep love for learning about different cultures was sure to be in overdrive during this 3-day event. Here are 5 special elements from the occasion that stood out to me:

ceremony

The ceremony at sunset in a botanical garden.

  1. Traditional Ethiopian dresses (well, many dresses!) The Bride began Day 1 in a traditional Ethiopian dress. She walked down the aisle with two elders, who then handed her over to her parents and then they proceeded to the Groom. The Bride later wore a traditional, white American gown to the reception on Day 2. The next day, she was in another Ethiopian dress that matched the Groom’s outfit. With this dress, she also wore symbolic gold jewelry. There were chains of gold linked within her braided hair that was customary for her father’s tribe – so beautiful. Likewise, the bridesmaids wore a variety of dresses throughout the festivities and although they had matching heels, you were more likely to find them barefoot (see #5).

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  1. Kidnapping of the Bride! This was fun! The Groom goes to the Bride’s parents’ house where she is kept inside as her friends and family block the entrance to the home. The Groom works with his friends and family to sway the Bride’s family into letting him inside. They offered flowers, perfume, gifts and many sweet words. There was also TONS of dancing and singing! It was also fun to watch their neighbors observing the event. Several neighbors, from different cultures, came outside to see what was taking place. The Bride sat inside and was to keep a serious expression on her face to show she is sad to be leaving her parent’s house; however, this Bride had a hard time holding back her smiles of happiness as she waited for the love of her life. Eventually, the Groom was permitted inside where he sat with the Bride and then left with her in the limo.
  1. The honoring of elders. Throughout the wedding events, it was clear to see the value of the tribe’s elders. Each day they are dressed in delicate white material. At the start of the ceremony, elders walked the Bride to her awaiting parents who then took her to the hands of her Groom. After the reception, the elders sat in a row as the Bride and Groom went before each one, bowed down and kissed their knees. The elders said blessings for the couple and the evening came to an end. I noted throughout the weekend that people of all ages were paying their respects to the elders. They checked on them to see if they needed anything, they warmly greeted them, and they were sure to include them on activities throughout the weekend. It was simply beautiful to see this level of deeply rooted respect.
elders

Some of the elders.

  1. The food. The food. The food. Okay, so I am automatically drawn to any outing where there will be food, especially if it is something I have not tried. Although I have been eating Ethiopian food for years, thanks to this awesome friend, this was the first time I saw a special wedding tradition. Now, there was American food served inside the beautiful reception venue, but that is where it ended. The rest of the weekend was full of injera (information can be found here), meat stews, kitfo, vegetables and the lovely fragrant Ethiopian coffee. It was fun to watch people eat these dishes for the first time (something I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many times over the years, and it is always eventful because it is a unique experience for most people outside of that culture with both the types of food and the style in which one eats it). They asked many questions and put it on a plate like an American holiday meal. So, I was used to plating the injera and then the food on top (injera soaked in the juices is the best!) and I have eaten kitfo (a description is here) on many occasions. However, new to me on this day was the raw cow that was hanging, ready to eat – yes, ready to eat! The meat is “cooked” with spices and I was willing to try some since I have previously enjoyed the ground version. It was good, but I still prefer it ground.
beef

My friend, Mr. Cow – although not as friendly as his cousin, Mr. Ground Cow (not pictured).

  1. Dancing the nights away. When the Bride stated that there would be tons of dancing, she was not exaggerating. From before the Bride stepped into the aisle to say her vows, from when Day 3 ended, there was continuous singing, ululation (The start of this video has the ululation, along with pictures of many features I mentioned in this piece, although this video is not from the wedding I attended.) and dancing. The days were filled with beautiful ululation that replicated the joyous feeling everyone was experiencing. A lot of dancing also took place at the reception, which was in a gorgeous hotel. Due to the venue’s setup, many hotel guests could observe the reception. It appeared that people were very grateful for this opportunity as they stood and watched the celebration for a long time and often were seen taking pictures. There was a mix of past and present music from both represented cultures. Guests of all ages and backgrounds were finding their way to the dance floor because the energy was so infectious. It surely led up to the hype!

 

 

Anytime people gather to celebrate love, it is magical. The warmth from the Bride and Groom fills the air and coats the atmosphere. This wedding lived up to that ideal and spread even further. To see two cultures combine was so enchanting. Each brought pieces of their culture to the union. Their guests were able to learn from one another, and grow deeper as we celebrated the love between two amazing individuals.  So, by the end of the three days, we found ourselves exhausted and yet still smiling, ululating and accepting yet another bite of injera.

         Ahmeli… that when cultures come together, they bring out the best in one another to create a better tomorrow.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

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Update: Coloring the Map Yellow

Just a quick update on my adventure to get readers throughout the world. My first post about this fun challenge is here. Since that post, the number of countries as grown to 40! I’m very excited about this, especially because I love learning about different cultures and countries. Here are comparison maps between when this challenge began, and today. Check out the growing yellow!

Map from the original post.                 Today’s current map.

The most views of the blog come from: United States, Netherlands, India, United Kingdom and Croatia. A special shout out to the readers from those countries who continue to be faithful to checking in on the blog. Some of the new countries included: Ukraine, Hungary, Ethiopia & Iraq. Here are some interesting facts about those countries:

Ukraine – Lviv has the highest amount of cafes per capita with around 1500 establishments total. (Lviv population ~730.000 people). This sparked my interested because I always enjoy a flavorful cup of coffee/espresso (so far, my favorite is coffee from Ethiopia.).

Hungary – The government must approve your child’s name. This sounded a bit overbearing; however, as a former educator, I do believe this could hold some value in a few cases. 😉

Ethiopia – This is the only African country that was never brought under colonial control throughout its history. Seeing the complex changes that happen to a family once they become residents inside a different culture led me towards finding this fact to be of interest. Maintaining control over their land must have enabled Ethiopians to stay firmly rooted in their culture’s beliefs and traditions.

Iraq – Production of honey and its trade is a major industry in Iraq. Honey is known as a miracle cure in the country, and has the ability to treat headaches, arthritis and many other ailments. Multiple wars suffered by the country had a negative effect on this industry. Have you ever tasted honey from another country??? My taste buds are always charmed when I get the opportunity to try honey from another country, or region. Next time you get the chance, give it a try!

Here is a list of the current countries that views have come from: Continue reading

What is HE Doing!?!

Today I have a confession. There is a reaction I’ve been having towards specific people that I viewed as just “normal.” Nothing took place to initiate this response, it was just simply automatic to me and I was sure that it was a common response by all parents. It rarely happened, probably because it’s “not supposed to,” and so most of the days our family went about our lives without having to experience THAT. What is it? It’s the emotional, and somewhat physical, response that my body experiences when a man whom I do not really know, perhaps even a complete stranger, wants to hold my baby. Red flags go off in my head. My eyes begin to dart all around. My mind races wondering, “Why is he approaching us? What does he want? What is his reason for touching my child?” Now, these thoughts do sometimes strike me when it is a female interacting with my son, but I openly admit that I experience the discomfort way more when it is a man. And in my mind, this was justified. The stories flooding the media, circling social groups and blackening the pages of the newspaper seem to almost always lead towards a man abducting, hurting, or even killing, a child. So, putting all of those pieces together, I thought my response in these situations was fully justified. I was being aware and alert to keep my child safe.

 

And then slowly, things changed.

Continue reading

You Carry the Future

*Recently, I have been observing the trends I see between the youth from the various cultures I interact with compared to the youth of my community. As is true everywhere, there are exceptions and outliers. I understand that. This piece is reflective of what I have personally experienced, or witnessed, with youth whom I have interacted with over the years within the same city and same economic level, but from different cultures as based by country of origin. The purpose of this reflection is to provide a platform for us to evaluate what is happening and to improve mentoring among the youth. *

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You Carry the Future

Offering to carry a young woman’s infant as she walks beside you.

Walking through a door without holding it open for the woman carrying a baby.

A brother braiding his little sister’s hair.

Siblings sitting in the same room; communication only by text.

No power needed to play a game of soccer.

Emotions run wild when a power outage eliminates playing video games.

Cooking a variety of dishes as taught by Hooyo.

Bag of chips and soda from the corner store.

20, living at home, working fulltime, supporting the family.

20, living at home, chillin’ on social media, “figuring out” life.

Silence in the classroom. Homework completed. Education valued.

Timeout #27 today. Homework? Education ignored.

Walking down a street. Greeting all those you pass.

Music pumping in ears. The “what you looking at?!?” glance given.

Guest enters the room and bodies raise, all giving greetings.

While being fixated on a cell phone, the guest enters, unnoticed.

Advice is sought as stories are shared.

Stories are silenced, for advice is unwanted.

We can share lessons learned,

if you are open to guidance.

We will help in ways we can,

for you carry the future.

 

Ahmeli… that generations across the spectrum unite for the common goal of improving society.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

Carry

Joining the Band Wagon

A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog by Weird Weekends. He’s a creative writer who blends his weird interests with clever humor. He recently revealed a secret obsession (check it out here). This post drove me to want to jump on the band wagon. Weird Weekends is interested in getting readers from all over the world. Personally, I had never thought of that. However, being new to the blogging world, his post taught me about the WordPress feature that allows you to view where your readers are located throughout the world. Given my love for communities and cultures, Weird Weekend’s post soon became my obsession. I have now checked my map each week. So, what does it look like? Here you are:

map_readers

The yellow represents areas where readers of the blog are located. The orange represents the country with the most readers.

As a result of this new band wagon stolen obsession, I would like to invite you to send your friends from around the world my blogsite (ahmeli.com) as we join together to add more color to this map. Over the past month, several countries have visited my page and this has driven me to research some new countries and recall fond memories of friends from other, more familiar, countries. I must agree with Weird Weekends, it is VERY exciting to see a new country added to the map/list. There are currently 35 different countries represented on this map as having people who have viewed Ahmeli. We can surely find readers throughout more of South America and Africa. Netherlands is one of the top viewers, and I have since read more about life over there. Beautiful place! I was sure to tell my friends from Greece that someone in their country is representing. And I was interested in seeing countries such as Pakistan and Czech Republic join the list over the recent days.

A quilt I made from fabric sent throughout the world. The blue patch (located on the back) states the countries that are represented. This was such an exciting adventure as we collected fabric from around the world and visually displayed how beautiful and unique diversity is, especially when brought together.

Okay, this is a short post today, so that gives you some extra minutes to reach out to your friends and help me reach the goal of getting the whole map yellow! Thanks in advance for your efforts! Leave a comment below that tells us all one interesting fact about your country (EVEN if your country is already listed). Shhh…. perhaps we can even beat Weird Weekends pace. 😉

 

Ahmeli… that this map turns yellow, but more importantly, that people are drawn into the blog and become regular readers/commentators as we join in growing through learning from one another’s unique experiences.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

 

 

Drive…Drive Far Away

Looking around the world

wondering what’ll happen next.

Reading the news, watching the clips, seeing the images…

wondering, “When will it end?”

I just want to drive … drive far away.

 

Attacks during 2016 in

France,

America,

Turkey,

Mali,

Tunisia,

Indonesia,

Iraq,

Burkina Faso,

Yemen,

Kurdistan,

Bangladesh,

Kazakhstan….

the list goes on and on.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Societies are crashing.

Governments are failing.

Money is controlling.

Education is depleting.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Hatred is flourishing.

Love is missing.

Honor is deceiving.

Kinship is dividing.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Is it the rise of a terror group?

The capabilities of social media?

A path away from God?

Or nothing new at all?

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

The pain, agony, hardship, murders, anger, hatred, frustration, shouting, blasting, greed.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

But then I stand here…because driving away will not change the mindset of a country, a nation, a culture, a religion, an ethnic group, a disturbed mind, a government, a neighbor, a family.

 

No; driving away will only separate the temporary from the reality. I know this. I see this. I feel this. I acknowledge this.

 

Yet still… I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Ahmeli… that instead of driving away, we come together as a society and work towards bettering our world.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

Drive