BASIC CUSTOMS IN ETHIOPIA

SHAKING HANDS

While it is consider as impolite to shake hands with both hands in many Cultures, in Ethiopia it is an expression of respect. Especially using both hands to shake is applied with older people.

COVERING HAIR

In instances where women go to church, particularly in Orthodox churches, women are expected to cover their hair. Putting on a shawl will do.

TAKING SHOES OFF

Whenever you step into a church you will be expected to take your shoes off. Do not leave them at the entrance. Take them in with you as there is a good possibility that you may not find them when you go out.

WEARING SKIRTS OR OTHER EXPOSING OUTFITS

While this is perfectly acceptable in the acculturated parts of Ethiopia such as Addis Ababa, outfits which expose different parts of body are not worn in rural areas. While you may not be criticized for doing this as a tourist, it is not culturally accepted.

DURING MEALS

Wearing hats, sucking or liking fingers are among some of the things that are considered as rude. Staying at the table until everyone is finished is also polite.

BOWING A LITTLE

When someone serves you a cup of coffee or somethingelse bowing a little and saying the amharic word " amesegenalehu" is considered as polite. Bowing a little and receiving gifts with both hands is also considered as respecful.

STANDING UP.

If you are sitting in a room when someone older steps into the room is a sign of respect. Adding the word "nor" is mostly applicable in Amharic speaking families.

LOW VOICE AND SILENCE

Particularly in instances where you find your self in an Orthodox church on a visit speaking at a low voice is appropriate. Full silence is expected if you find yourself during a service.

 

Note: In recent years western influence has played a role in eroding different cultures and practices in Ethiopia. Even in rural parts of the country where some ethnic groups live in the most primitive ways ( without wearing any clothes for example), influence is finding its way in. The culture of some unique communities has been affected when tourists and local visitors come to visit and provide them with gifts.

Many of the cultures and values described in our website are gradually fading away. You may not find all them in all families and every community. But whenver someone applies them, it gives great pleasure especially to older people.

 

Related links

- FACTS ABOUT ETHIOPIANS

- DO NOT BE SHOCKED

- DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND

- ETHIOPIAN TABOOS

-MUST KNOW ETHIOPIAN NORMS AND CUSTOMS

 

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