Ethiopians celebrate Fasika (Easter) in Chicago following 55-day fast

By Hannah Gebresilassie

Hundreds of Ethiopians came together at Debre Tsion Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Chicago to celebrate Fasika, or Easter, on May 1.

The 6-hour service includes individual and community prayers led by Father Michael during worship. From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, priests and some church members don’t eat anything to show their commitment to God.

This video recaps the 6-hour Ethiopian Orthodox Easter service held at Debre Tsion Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Chicago in two minutes. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

Leading up to Fasika, most members at church commit to the Ethiopian Orthodox Lent fast. The strict 55-day fast involves no eating animal or dairy products and extended periods of worship and prayer.

Incense, or etan, is used as one of the sacrifices the church offers to God. This compliments one of the most important offerings of the ceremony, holy communion.

Candles are lit to show faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and glorify God, according to the Eastern Orthodox faith. Women cover their hair and everyone removes their shoes when entering the sanctuary to show respect to holy traditions.

Toward the end of the service, drums come alive as the choir, or the mezemran, sings and rejoices while praising God. They also sing while walking in a circle to symbolize God exists all over the universe and the word of God is evangelized all over the world.

Photo at top: Candles are lit during the 2016 Fasika (Easter) at Debre Tsion Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church on May 1st. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)