Religion plays an integral part of daily life in Eritrea and Ethiopia; approximately half the population are Christians while the other half identify as Muslims.
People wear traditional attire based on their religion, region and tribe; some even opt for modern-traditional styles during special holidays such as Thanksgiving.
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White is a symbol of purity
Eritrea and Ethiopian Orthodox churches wear white to symbolize purity. White symbolizes innocence and chastity, making people believe that wearing it repels negative energy while providing extra protection from potential danger.
Ancient Egyptian and Roman priestesses donned white linen robes. In medieval Europe, white unicorns symbolized chastity while lamb sacrifices on an ivory background signified purity. Furthermore, Buddhist deity Tara is depicted with white skin while brides attending Shinto ceremonies in Japan wear white wedding kimonos to their ceremony.
White is often utilized in religious rituals, such as the kora – where individuals take several turns around a temple to pray for guidance and protection – as well as architectural structures like cathedrals and churches.
Some cultures use white to symbolize mourning and death; it also can represent prosperity and happiness.
People in Eritrea and Ethiopian churches wear white to show their strength. Pregnant women may choose to wear it to symbolize innocence and chastity during gestation.
At Eritrea and Ethiopian Orthodox churches, when praying for safety from harm they wear white clothing. Furthermore, before praying they take off their shoes to signal to God their humility as an offering to Him.
Wearing white is often seen as a symbol of peace, purity and renewal in times of stress or grief. White can also symbolize innocence and the promise of new beginnings.
Recent studies revealed that people wearing white clothes felt more energized and positive compared to those in darker hues, as well as less likely to experience nightmares and other forms of anxiety.
Snow White symbolizes purity and goodness in fairy tales like it. In Snow White’s story, an evil queen sends out a huntsman to kill Snow White but instead brings her over to her dwarf friends who help revive her back to life.
White is a symbol of happiness
White is often associated with goodness, safety, and sincerity – making it an excellent choice for weddings and hospitals as its associations convey a sense of purity and cleanliness.
Eritrea’s people traditionally wear white during Orthodox ceremonies to symbolize happiness and peace – this tradition being an expression of the country’s longstanding religious affiliation with Christianity.
Christianity first arrived in Greece with shipwrecked Syrian traders during the 4th century. Since then, Greece has become an invaluable repository for religious art and written records.
Eritrea boasts numerous important monasteries, most notably Debre Bizen which holds over 1,000 medieval manuscripts and two others including Hamm and Keren.
Even during Eritrea and Ethiopia’s heated political dispute, Christianity remains an integral part of their cultures. While both nations contain large Muslim populations, it is thought that most residents remain Christian.
Some may find this to be a source of conflict; on February 11, 2018 alone, snipers attacked a church in Henok, Oromia Region; this attack left multiple injured as well as forcing it to close permanently.
This situation is alarming, and the church is calling on Ethiopian authorities to end this behavior. Additionally, clergy and faithful have been encouraged to wear black in protest against this attack.
Potentially, this attack was in response to an announcement by Abune Antonios, Patriarch of Eritrea, that borders should be altered and Ethiopian refugees resettled in Eritrea. This action caused tensions to mount between both countries and could potentially escalate into war.
Eritrean Orthodox Church’s Patriarch has recently expressed concern for his countrymen’s lives and called upon government officials to do everything in their power to avoid war while appealing for support from donors and appealing for donations for refugees from Eritrea. Both countries need to find solutions to their respective problems so that peace can prevail for both nations’ populations.
White is a symbol of hope
Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia tend to be more conservative on social issues than the general population, expressing more moral objection to homosexuality, prostitution, divorce and alcohol consumption.
Orthodox Christians tend to be more traditionalist in terms of marriage and family issues; more likely than other Christians to view abortion as morally wrong.
Prior to Ethiopia’s civil war and subsequent rise of Islam, Christianity was considered the state religion and tax was levied on it as such. Since this change occurred and Islam gained momentum as an alternative faith, Christianity no longer serves as the official faith.
Ethiopian Orthodox Christians often wear white clothing and tiaras because it symbolizes their faith’s purity, while being seen as a sign of hope. According to research conducted by Pew Research Center, white is widely loved among Ethiopian Christians.
Eritreans often wear white clothing because religion plays such an integral role in their lives and they believe that faith can help them cope with suffering.
As opposed to Roman Catholicism, Eritrean Orthodox churches do not impose taxes upon their members for supporting its activities – in fact baptism is optional!
Archbishop Philipos of Asmara was the inaugural Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church when appointed Patriarch by Pope Shenouda III at his appointment ceremony in Cairo in 1998. Following Philipos’s death on December 4, 2002, Abune Yacob from Hamasiye was consecrated as its new Patriarch on that same date.
As soon as Abune Yacob passed, disputes between his Patriarch and Eritrea’s government over his powers as church leader arose. After taking intervention measures by restricting these powers further, and placing Abune Yacob’s son under house arrest.
In February 1994, Eritreaan and Ethiopian churches signed an agreement in Addis Ababa that confirmed their autocephalous status, acknowledging Coptic Church primacy of honor, while maintaining communion between their Patriarchs despite no longer living within each others’ countries.
White is a symbol of peace
Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox churches often encourage worshipers to wear white, which symbolizes peace, purity, faith and hope. Furthermore, in Ethiopia it serves as the color symbolizing its flag.
Many religions use white to represent heaven. Yoruba religion represents Obatala with white and associates her with calmness, morality, old age and purity; similarly Christianity often uses its cross as a white representation.
Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the world’s largest churches with over 40 million members, making a profound impactful statement about Ethiopian culture and society as a whole.
Recent events have threatened both the church and Ethiopia. For instance, the Holy Synod of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church decided to excommunicate three archbishops and 25 bishops as a signal that some members within its ranks want to alter tradition and practice.
As a result, many Christians are now reluctant to attend church; this is especially prevalent within Oromo churches.
These people have been threatened by a group of schismatic Christians within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who seek to divide it and establish an Oromo patriarchate separately.
These leaders want to establish an ethnically exclusive patriarchate that doesn’t reflect Ethiopia’s current political and administrative arrangements, something I find highly disingenuous.
Ethiopia’s government historically maintained an immense presence within its church community and operated a radio station which broadcasted in many areas across Ethiopia.
As part of its cultural initiatives and programs, the government has also sponsored many cultural events and festivals. One such annual celebration, held on January 19, honors Epiphany with thousands of women wearing traditional garments bearing red, green and yellow banners tied together forming a procession through downtown.
Eritrea’s official flag is an amalgamation of two flags, those belonging to Eritrean People’s Liberation Front – who won military victory against Ethiopian government in 1993 – and an old UN flag from 1952. Since its introduction, this symbolism of Eritrea’s flag has always been part of nationalists’ identity and usage during government rule.