Tsom, the Ethiopian Christian fasting season has officially started. Tsom is the fasting season before Easter. Christianity is a huge party of Ethiopian culture and fasting/ Tsom is a normal part of the culture. So what do we do during the Tsom season? Essentially everyone who is fasting or participating in Tsom is adopting a Vegan lifestyle. No butter, meat, or any other animal product. There are so many substitutes for the staple foods in the Ethiopian diet that really fasting becomes easy when you are living in an area where there are a lot of Ethiopians or even when living in Ethiopia.
However, what about those people that live in an area where there isn’t easy access to vegan food, or the Ethiopian food substitutes. It becomes a lot more challenging to follow the vegan diet.
My only problem with Tsom, from a cultural stand point, is that it causes the individual to focus so much on the food that they eat and forget the reason for the season. Tsom is a time to prepare for the rising of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a time to prepare our mind, body and soul for Easter. I think it is important that people combine both the mind and body aspect with the spiritual aspect. Sometimes I find it harder to focus on that entire thing when you are trying to figure out what to eat during the Tsom season.
I have participated in Tsom in the past. I found it to be a challenge. I would say I was fairly successful in keeping with the dietary restrictions. The most amazing part of Tsom is the unifying concept behind it. All people, whether rich or poor have this one thing in common. It brings people with political and cultural differences together. We all end up eating the same things, there is no distinction between class or even political view.
Tsom requires a lot of dedication and focus. What is your take? Does Tsom unite or divide? Does it really allow people to focus on preparing for Easter? Share your thoughts here and let’s keep the conversation going!