Who Are Habesha people and What Are They Known For today?

Ethiopain church protestant wedding

The Habeshas were known as people from the North part of Ethiopia ,therefore, the Tigre, the Agew, the Beta Israel and the Amhara. In contemporary speaking, however, the name Habesha people represents the people of Ethiopia and Eretria as a whole.

It represents a culturally related people than an ethnic society. The Habesha, also known as Abyssinians, is the name given to three distinct ethnic groups and some minor ones inhabiting the Horn of Africa.

They are the various related ethnic groups in the Eritrean Highlands and Ethiopian Highlands who speak languages belonging to the South Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Members’ cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to the Kingdom of D’mt and the later Kingdom of Axum.

Habesha people today also includes the whole of Ethiopia and Eretria. It is hard to distinguish one from the other. They all live together and are called with the same name. When we talk about the Habesha people we are including all the people in the country that shared culture for long.

Habesha people today include people in Eretria and Ethiopia. Habesha people have rich cultures that include unique dancing styles, clothing, food, and coffee ceremony. The traditional clothing includes Habesha Kemis, and other cultural clothing. The religion and the religious builds that date back to the medieval time also gives a name for Habesha people.

Here are 8 things the Habesha people are known for.

tribes in ethiopia -
Habesha people -

1-      Traditional clothing

Like many African countries, Habesha people also have a unique clothing culture that is exclusive to them. The white cloths that are usually seen on celebrations and cultural events are minimal and brilliantly beautiful.

The Habesha kemis (or Habesha dress) is the traditional cloth of the Habesha women. The white dress with few decorative stitching is usually worn by Ethiopian women on events including weddings, religious ceremonies and new year.

It is made of chiffon and typically comes in white, grey or beige shades. The cloth is also made with a small scarf or shawl called Netela used to cover the head or simply put around the shoulder to slightly cover and decorate the upper part of the clothing. The dress is a handmade painstakingly crafted by traditional methods. 

Simple traditional clothing is for men. Long sleeve, shirt, and trousers with a matching color and decorations. The shoe also matches the clothing and is usually open sandals. Netela is also worn with the clothing. The men usually will have a stick in their hand as a symbol of leadership and status. The white stick sometime will have a horse tail on its end that is used to as decoration.

Each ethnic group also has its own traditional clothing.

Ethiopain church protestant wedding

2-      Religion of Habesha People

The Habesha people played in religion. Christianity, for example, arrived in northern Ethiopian and arteria around the 4th century.

The Aksumites accepted the religion prior to many European Christian nations. centered in Axum and Adwa was part of the centers for the growth of the religion. Many of the churches, especially in Axum and Lalibela show this fact.

The churches with great decorations, well-thought scripts, and monolithic structures exhibit the place of religion in the Habesha people This means the churches were made from a single cliff with careful carving.

Islam is also directly linked to Habesha people. Storied tell that Mohammed, the prophet sent his people to Ethiopia fleeing from persecution. And the Habesha people accepted them and gave them a place, despite the existed religious difference.

Today, the two religions coexist together, except for some disagreement in recent years. The coexistence is also a symbol for Habesha people that it is possible to live together despite the difference.

foods in ethiopia

3-      Food and coffee

Habesha People have a unique food culture that emanates from the climate, everyday culture and social life. The spicy dishes, the Wot, a thick stew served with injera are some of the variations.

Injera is a flatbread that is made out of teff dough that is unknown in many places in the world. Food is usually composed of vegetables and spicy meat dishes in variation.

Shiro, a Wot made from ground beans is also a known food in the Habesha people community. Doro which is a unique way of making chicken is a flavor most tourists and visitors crave for.

Coffee has a place in the life of Habesha people. It is a ceremony. The processes that start from washing beans, roasting it, brewing and serving up to three rounds. The coffee ceremony is accompanied by music, chatting, decorations with grass and incense.

4-      The Habesha People Culture

The Habesha people were based on agriculture and used to herd animals. They farm with animals. And they built churches and based life around it.

Many people know Habesha people for their food that is relatively known in Europe and the US. Ethiopian food is famous and is frequented by some. The food brings another culture that is important to it.

A social gathering it promotes has a unique culture. Most of the ceremonies enforce coming together and get to know each other. Eating from the same plate and feeding each other is a stranger culture for some and yet a great way of promoting peace and coexistence.

The annual events such as Timket have a beautiful sight and is fun for many visitors.  The religious events are also part of the culture.

The coffee ceremony done on a timely basis is a great Habesha culture that promotes coming together. The coffee is an integral part of the Ethiopian community. The interdependence due to socioeconomic factors is supported by such traditions.

Habesha culture is also influenced by religion. Ethiopian Christianity is the main part of the social lifestyle. The weekly events, or yearly events, the fasting twice a week to encourage a vegan lifestyle are part of the culture. Even other religions have a big part in the culture of Habesha people.

The dances, the cultural clothing, cultural events all make a remarkable and memorable mark on visitors. Habesha culture is one that is worth investigating and learning as a tourist.

Ethiopian language amharic letters
“File:Amharic alphabet Fidel ፊደል.gif” by Abel Gebremariam is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

5-        Language

Habesha people are known with the diverse languages that have their own qualities. The northern part of the country speaks a Semitic language, including the classical language Ge’ez and Amharic.

Ge’ez language has a huge place in the Habesha society, especially in the orthodox church. The language is thought to begin with the adoption of Christianity in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the civilization of Axum in the 4th century BCE, during the reign of King Ezana.

The language is on the verge of extinction, and its use is limited to the Orthodox church. The Cushitic languages also flourish in the southern and center of the country. 

There are more than 80 languages spoken in the land.  

Related: What Does Ethiopia Looks Like?

6-        Origin of the Habesha people

The history of the Habesha people dates back to the Axumite Empire, which is in the first century AD. At this time, history tells, Hamitic-Semitic peoples (Sabaean traders) from South Arabian came into contact with native people and intermarried.

The generation afterward began being called locally as Habesha that translates as “people of mixed blood”. Their land (Tigray, Begemdir, Gojam, Northern Shewa, Welo) was later termed Abyssinia.

Later the people expanded to south and west, looking for resources. With the advice of Count Pietro Antonelli, an Italian with geographic Society mission in Abyssinia, the state of Abyssinia combined with the newly added states of the South and the West, was later referred to as “Ethiopia”

Habesha people are known for their origin and location that is situated in the present day of Ethiopia. The people have a unique culture and features that are different from the rest of the African and middle east countries.

The Habesha people are known for their peaceful settlement with hundreds of ethnic groups and few religions. The cultures such as the coffee ceremony and annual celebrations bring the people together and share each other’s culture.

For example, there is a unique culture where Christians could visit Islam acquaintances on their annual religious celebrations. At the events, they go to each other’s houses and share a meal and spend a day together.

Coffee is another unique culture. A house that made a coffee would call the rest of the neighbors to visit them at home and share a coffee with them.  The culture is unique and created a social bond in society.

The clothing style of the Habesha people is also a marvelous symbol of the place. The unique clothing styles, colors, decorations and designs are beautiful and create a symbol for the people.

The Habesha Kemis is vastly known with its minimal design with a white garment and few decorations on the edge of the cloths. Many Ethiopian advertisements include dresses to represent the people.

If you haven’t already tasted the food, Ethiopia is known for its local foods. A bit expensive but there are many Ethiopian restaurants around the world. If you look thoroughly, there is probably one in your city as well. Doro Wot, Beyaynet, and others are good for vegans and non-vegans. You can choose based on your preference.

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