Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ethiopian Toast –“lə t’enachΪn “- ለጤናችን!


The International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture says toasting "is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words ‘long life!’ or ‘to your health’’! Indeed it’s an old tradition that can be dated back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Another document states that whenever there was a gathering or a massive celebration, the Greeks would gather, pour wine and toast one another celebrating the occasion. This gesture was later picked up by the other cultures around the world and passed on through generations until we end up with the toasting tradition that we know today. Toasting is something that is done at almost every celebratory or festive occasion where one a person or two may stand up and say a few nice things either about the person or persons or the occasion. As you know, they then will clink their glasses together and cheer before downing their drink. This toasting tradition in Ethiopia is also age-old. Grabbing one’s təj, honey wine or t’əla, local beer or any other drinks, such as arək’e, especially at celebrations like this one, New Year (Adis Amət or Ϊnk’ut’at’ash) people toast with a hearty –“lə t’enachΪn “-! That's the Ethiopian way, which means "to our health." As we are moving forward to the Adis Amət, 2002, (oops, counting your age in Ethiopian calendar makes you feel younger) I think many things deserve to be cherished and we dare raise our glasses and make toasts for them. Of course, it’s not that all of them were deeply remembered for their good sides, but in anticipation that they may, in some inexplicable way, would bring about affirmative results in the Adis Amət. First and foremost, a toast” lə t’enachΪn” for seeing another day, another Adis Amət, despite all the soaring prices of goods and cereals, especially that of bəg (sheep) and doro (chicken) and k’Ϊbe (butter) which are core to Ethiopian holiday festivities. A toast “lə l’ΪjochachΪn” (for our kids) for they will be heading to the next level of educational challenge, though the school fees have skyrocketed like no other time.

A toast “lə k’ələbət məngədochachΪn” (for our newly constructed ring-roads), since they were completed this past year, though the dramatic increase of gas price may restrict us from fully enjoying our vehicles on these highways. A toast “Yə bΪrhan Amət YΪhunΪlΪn” (let the new-year be that of light) for our new Electric Power House, GΪlgəl Gibe I, (one of the three project sites was said to be completed this past year), even if we are still having several months of dark nights. Yet, we always see the Adis Amət as a hope to see better things and situations. Was it Tom Clancy who said, “Man is a creature of hope and invention, both of which belie the idea that things cannot be changed”? So, it’s very customary in Ethiopian culture to celebrate the Adis Amət with such a mindset of hope and wishful toast. I hereby stop and make a toast for this year – Adisu Amət Yət’ena, Yə səlam, Yə bΪls’ΪgΪna Ϊna Yə dəsta zemen YΪhunΪlΪn, literally translated as “Let the New Year be of health, peace, prosperity and happiness”!

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