• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

We Do, They Do, That’ll Do: Dating and Marriage Customs in Ethiopia

On Valentine’s Day one typically thinks of hearts, chocolates, and flowers; a holiday to celebrate love and romance. This year though, Sinclair definitely stretched my mind with a presentation on Dating and Marriage Customs in Ethiopia by Dr. Abebayehu Desalegn, a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence from Ethiopia who is teaching Human Biology and General Biology here at Sinclair. To learn more about Dr. Abebayehu Desalegn and what it means to be a Fullbright Scholar checkout this article: https://www.sinclair.edu/news/article/sinclair-community-college-welcomes-visiting-fulbright-scholar-in-residence/

My biggest takeaway from Dr. Abebayehu Desalegn’s presentation is the fact that there are actually three different types of marriages in Ethiopia. YES! You read that correctly. There are THREE different types of marriages. The three types are:

  1. Eucharist Church Marriage (Qurban)
  2. Kin-negotiated civil marriage
  3. Temporary marriage (Damoz)

The Eucharist church marriage (Qurban) is the most scared type of union. This ceremony is solemnized in church and is irreversible. Divorce for any reason within this arrangement would have both individuals shunned by the church. I have dubbed this form of marriage “We do” for its permanence. Both parties must be in total agreement and love must be present when this type of marriage occurs in Ethiopia.

A cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where a traditional church marriage might occur

Next, is the Kin-negotiated civil marriage. This is still one of the most widely practiced marriage ceremonies in Ethiopia. As the name implies, the families of the bride and groom are making the arrangements with little to no input from the bride and groom themselves. Subsequently though, this form of marriage has the highest divorce rate. This is why I have named this form of marriage “They do” since “They” families “do” agree to this union, even if the groom and bride don’t.

Finally, there is the temporary marriage (Damoz). This form of marriage is a contract between the groom and bride for a set period of time. This arrangement can best be described as “legal prostitution”, where the bride is paid for her time and services during the duration of the contract. The bride is not entitled to an inheritance from the groom after the contract is over. Any children birthed during this arrangement though are considered legitimate and will receive an inheritance from the father. I have affectionately called this one “That’ll do” since the groom and bride have to agree to the terms of the contract.

Dr. Abebayehu Desalegn shared several eye-opening facts, making the event truly thought-provoking. I hope this information sparks interest in you to attend a future event because you’ll never know what you might learn about another culture or yourself.

April Littleton, Reporter

(Featured Image from Canva)