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Ethiopian Holy Week clashes with Christians’

Published: 
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church during their Palm Sunday procession.

Members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are observing Holy Week along with the Christian Roman Catholic and Anglican community, while adhering to their own ancient Ethiopian customs, beliefs and traditions. “It is the same Christ we worship,” His Grace Abuna Thaddaeus Gidey, Archbishop of the Caribbean and Latin America, said. “We believe in His death and His Resurrection but we have a different order, different rules and different celebrations,”he added. Gidey said the Ethiopian Church also used a different calendar than the western world’s Gregorian calendar.

He explained: “We follow our own calendar. Some people say it is the Julian calendar we follow but it is not. Our Ethiopian calendar goes back 4,000 years before Christ. “The Julian calendar is adapted from the ancient Egyptian calendar. Ours date from after the flood, in the time of Noah.”  Gidey said his church’s observance of Holy Week was determined upon the Ethiopian calendar calculations. He added: “Sometimes it falls on different calendar calculations but this time it falls together and coincides with the western calendar. Sometimes it is observed a week after the western calendar. “Our Lent is also a little longer than the western Lent and lasts for 55 days.” The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been in existence for over 2,000 years and has eight churches in Trinidad and one in Tobago.

The church has been in the Caribbean for over 58 years with dioceses in Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Bermuda. The title “Abuna” means Our Father, equivalent to either His Grace, His Eminence in the ancient Ge’ez language of Ethiopia. “When I was consecrated as archbishop by the Holy Synod, the name of the apostle Thaddaeus was chosen for me,” Gidey said.  “Gabriel is my first name and Gidey is the family name which means ‘My Portion’ in the Tigrinya dialect,” he added. Gidey was consecrated as archbishop in 1993 by Patriarch Abuna Paulos at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church headquarters in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Church’s Patriarch is the equivalent of the Roman Catholic Pope. When asked if there were any dietary practices in the Ethiopian Church, he replied:
“We can eat some kinds of fish, meat and vegetables.

Since Ethiopia was a follower of Judaism, we follow the Old Testament regarding food. We don’t eat pork and what is considered unclean things as mentioned in Leviticus.” The Resurrection Service (Tinsea) will be held on Saturday from 10 pm until 4 am into Glorious Sunday at Medhane Alem headquarters, Old Golden Road, Arouca. Also included in the observances are singing, a candlelight  procession around the church three times, the breaking of the fast and the celebration of mass at midnight. Gidey concluded by wishing the country a joyful Holy Week. “I wish the nation all the best and a Happy Resurrection and Easter. We have to work together as a newly-risen (sic) people and live like risen people.”

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