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Amhara Wedding Traditions – 9 Interesting Facts

October 6, 2018 Comment

The Amhara people of Ethiopia are one of the most culturally dominant and politically powerful people groups in the country. They are mostly agriculturalists and live in the northern and central highlands of Ethiopia, also known as the Amhara region. Below are some interesting facts that characterize Amhara wedding traditions.

  1. Age of Marriage
  • Girls are considered ready for marriage from the age of 14. Typically, the groom is usually three to five years older than the bride. In the past, most young men would marry at the age of 30.
  1. Marriage Negotiations
  • Most marriages are arranged and negotiated by the parents of the bride and groom. After the negotiations are complete, a civil wedding ceremony is conducted to seal the contracts. A priest may be present at this ceremony.
  1. Virginity
  • Because most families in the Amhara region are Christian, virginity is considered to be of high value. As such, the bride must be a virgin when the marriage takes place.
  1. Wedding Attire
  • Amhara wedding traditions require that the traditional Habesha cloth appears in every wedding ceremony as part of the bride and groom’s attire. This cloth may be in different designs and colors depending on the taste of the bride and groom, and the theme of the wedding.
  1. Wedding Venue
  • Whenever a civil wedding takes place, the parents of the bride and groom identify an auditorium or large hall where the entire function will take place. This venue is usually decorated with the wedding colors and is large enough to accommodate all the invited guests.

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  • There are three most common types of weddings.
  1. Eucharist church marriage (Qurban) – only practised by a minority of people in the Amhara region, specifically the priesthood, some older persons and nobility.
  2. Kin-negotiated civil marriage – this is the most widely practised form of marriage in the Amhara region. The parents of the bride and groom do the negotiations on behalf of the bride and groom, after which a civil wedding ceremony takes place.
  3. Temporary marriage (Damoz) – This type of marriage is unique to Amhara wedding traditions. It involves an oral contract between a man and woman before witnesses where the woman is paid housekeeper’s wages for a period stated in advance. This marriage contract, though oral, is enforceable by court order.
  1. Divorce
  • Divorce is not allowed for Eucharist church marriages but can be negotiated in the case of kin-negotiated civil marriage.
  1. Remarriage
  • In the case of Eucharist marriages, widows and widowers may remarry. Priests, however, are not allowed to remarry after the death of their wives and are instead obligated to become monks.
  1. Inheritance
  • The issue of inheritance is a straightforward issue for civil marriages. In the case of temporary marriages, however, the woman is not entitled to an inheritance. Her children are however legally recognized and qualify for inheritance.

Wedding Venue

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