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!