Fasika Fasting Begins


This morning as I left the compound, I saw this sheep’s head in the front yard.  It is there because the family killed the sheep and threw a big party yesterday to mark the beginning of the Easter Fasting Season.  For 2 months before Easter, Ethiopians fast (which means they abstain from eating meat and other animal products such as butter, milk, and eggs).  Today is the first day of Fasika Fasting.  So naturally there will be a sheep’s head in our front yard, right?  Naturally!  Even in Addis, this is still a quite traditional culture.  Killing sheep in your compound is quite common.  Sheep heads and entrails are normal sightings.  Sigh.


If you were wondering about the male sheep itself, it was a gift given from the Groom’s Family to the Bride’s Family.  I’m still not sure if the wedding already happened, or if the “Family Mixing” tradition is before the wedding event.  Regardless, the family mixing is marked by the groom’s family bringing a nice sheep to the bride’s family, such as this sheep.  The animal must be fabulous, or it would bring bad luck.  No bad markings, not the wrong color, and of course as big and male as possible.

This particular sheep was odd in that he NEVER made any noise.  For 2 weeks, he stood around in silence.  Very unusual behavior for a sheep separated from his flock.  He was so silent, I wonder if this was a good omen?  I hope so!  Often, I forgot the sheep was there until it startled me, like a silent apparition of sorts, standing in the shade of the house one day, standing near the flowers it was steadily consuming on another day.  The dog, on the other hand, was driven to barking madness by the presence of the silent sheep.

Now, let the fasting begin!


About Mandalay Elf

This blog is about my experiences as an English Language Fellow in Myanmar (2015-2016) and an archive of past experiences as an Education sector Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia (2011-2013). All contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government, the ELFellow program or the Peace Corps.


  1. Kris McGuckin ( a Villanova Wildcat)

    So happy to find your blog. My son is going to Eithiopia in June as a PCV. I have been reading everything I can get my hand on! How do you deal with livestock killing? Most Americans never expience that first hand unless they live on a farm. If this is so commonplace, i would expect there to be swarms of flies & tiny creatures all looking for dinner? Thanks for sharing your experiences & i’ll keep looking for new stories.
    Have a great day,

    • Hi Kris,
      How exciting for your son! Send him my congratulations. To answer your question, I am lucky because the livestock killing is normally left to the men. 😉 As a midwesterner (Iowa/Minnesota/Illinois), we do have our fair share of factory farms and large slaughterhouses to contend with. At first, it was somewhat shocking to see animal parts strewn all over town, dogs running around with sheep heads in their mouths, animals being skinned inside neighbors’ compounds, and unexpected rivers of blood flowing out from under fences into ditches… But over time, these things become more normal and less disturbing. There are so many good PCV blogs out there from Ethiopia. It does help to calibrate your expectations if you spend time doing research and seeing what others have experienced. Don’t let the blogs scare you too much. Ethiopia’s a wonderfully complex and interesting country and it is a great challenge/opportunity for all PCVs who serve here.

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