The Debt Season

May 11 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

The fasting season before Easter is followed by the wedding season in Ethiopia, leading to more invitations, more cars blaring their horns and the general atmosphere of gaiety.

In the Western world, weddings entail a multibillion-dollar industry. Almost three-quarters of all people that get married go into debt to pay for their weddings in the United States, according to a survey carried out on over 1,000 people getting married in 2019.

These were people willing to sacrifice a piece of their future in the name of having the wedding day of their dreams.

The reality is no different in Ethiopia, where people go into financial distress to pay for a wedding ceremony that matches their dreams. Given a deeply rooted culture that asks of each individual to go to great lengths to impress members of a society, most want a posh wedding ceremony. From the venue, to the ring, to the food, to the guest list, to the four-layered cake, the design of the room, to the musical selection, to the professional photographer and studio, weddings are considered shallow if they do not have the whole nine yards.

Some would argue that the debt, the months of worry and added stress of money to make the wedding day reality is worth it. It should not be. A couple should not have to spend the rest of their lives paying off debts that they acquired laying a feast.

Weddings are indeed a bountiful experience to behold. Two people who love each other should be more than welcome to be united in holy matrimony or any other possible way. But these should be thought carefully as to not create anxiety years after the day has passed. Many people have anecdotes that prove the problem that comes along with overpriced weddings. Some say these weddings even end up in divorce.

A marriage is a concept that requires a lifetime commitment. One of the issues that needs stability to keep this thing running is finance. If the couple are within their economic means, a large wedding could be the way to go. If that is the not the case, it is vital to keep in mind that weddings are not the building blocks of a marriage but a mere symbol that one can live without.

In fact, weddings have evolved to become ceremonies used for the expression of mere affection rather than love and the pivotal decision to live together. A woman recently wedded her horse in Denmark, and a man wedded a video game character. These may not be legally binding but in as far as a wedding is not a building block to marriage, they still hold water in the eyes of the human counterparts.

Weddings are a celebration of love - their significance is in the eye of the beholder. It is where two people make vows to one another to be there no matter what situations arise. But they are not the ultimate outcomes of loving and caring relationships. For all the attention we attach to them, weddings are the offspring of culture.

The hustle and bustle of finding the right dress, shoes, hairdresser and makeup artist and hoping all goes according to plan may give the urgency of marriages a symbolic significance. But they are momentary, and what follows is much more daunting.

We would all do better if we planned a little further afield instead of hankering on this one day. After all, it is not much more than an overdone party.

PUBLISHED ON May 11,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 993]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at

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