DestinationsTravel Guide

Things not to do in Ethiopia

Are you planning on going to Ethiopia? Then this post is for you! It is worthy to note that every country has its do’s as well as don’ts. That’s the case of Ethiopia of today. If you plan to take a trip to Ethiopia, you should like to know many things about this beautiful land!

Let’s start with some of the things you ought to know about the country. And, then we’ll launch into the “Things not to do in Ethiopia.”


  • Religion in Ethiopia

The city has a long-established as well as a cultural link to Islam and Christianity. Almost 2/3 of citizens are Christians, while 1/3 are Muslims. During the 2007 census, 44% of Ethiopia populations were identified as part of the protestant Christian or “Rentay.”

The next 3% were traditional animist’s beliefs, and the other proportion of the population was connected to other beliefs like Catholicism.

The city also has a substantial Jewish population called Beta Israel, and many traveled to Israel in the 20th century. A cultural force of Orthodox, “Tewahedo” religion was notable. In Ethiopia, the state is happy that many of the citizens were olden days Christians before others started.

They discourage conversion, and there are respect and tolerance of diversity of religion. Freedom of religion is the order of the day. Churches are respected, and believers are also recognized to a great extent. Islam is also practiced by many. They are appreciated too.

  • Family

It is highly respected in Ethiopia as the basics for a support network. It links up relatives, and they are reliant on others in the family circle. People always support their relatives; they send money to family members for live-saving support.

  • Household Structure

Their household structure is locally abundant, Patrilocal, and multi-generational. Many extended families live together at home or in the township. Resources are shared with all relatives, no matter where they are. They believe in many children. Family roles are respected and age too.

  • Disciple

It is the order of the day as children must respect their parents and elders too.

  • Gender roles

Great posts belong to men, and women are just helpmates. After the man, the woman takes over the role. Some changes could be seen in diverse ethnic groups. Men are brave, and women are beautiful and virginal. They are hardworking and capable too. Marriage is the order of the day. There’s nothing like prolonged friendship.

  • Name

The name follows the route, fathers, and personal names. No surname, no change of name in marriage. Muslims bear names related to their religion; likewise, women.

  • Dates of Importance

There are dates of essential happenings, and they are always noted. So if you go there, you may notice a unique calendar that divides one year into twelve months that have 30 days each and the left-over 5 or 6 days makes a leap year. If you want to host any occasion, you have to check the time and date to avoid confusion.


  • Avoid transferring of items with your left hand. This is a number one don’t do the thing in Ethiopia. It might be allowed in some regions of Ethiopia but not in all. So, don’t use the left hand, instead use the right hand.
  • Don’t sit down when a highly respected person comes into the room. This is considered impolite
  • Don’t forget to refer to titled people with their titles. It is against the rules for you to call them by their first names.
  • Don’t stand to greet elders; it is the mark of disrespect. You should kiss their hands, both in the local areas and in the cities.
  • Don’t extend an invitation once. You have to reach it multiple times. Don’t accept the gesture at the first invitation. Decline and accept at 2nd or 3rd offer. It shows hospitality and initial refusal is humbleness and lack of greed.
  • Don’t issue an invitation once. This is because, in Ethiopia, you must expect two- or three-times refusal – before acceptance.
  • Don’t be strictly punctual in Ethiopia meetings yet don’t go too late, because it is not acceptable
  • Don’t ask to split a bill in Ethiopia. It is good to say, let me pay for it or let me take care of your bills.
  • Don’t whistle if you are a woman because it is considered appropriate.
  • Don’t admire something or complain something more than once because of evil eyes, making them weary.
  • Don’t stop people from touching your child without explaining the reasons. It seems rude, and it is their cultural norm to kiss or pick up a child out of admiration.
  • Don’t walk across someone without greeting or acknowledging him or her
  • Don’t go to an Ethiopian home in dirty attire, because their homes are also the holy place for prayers.
  • Don’t say no to invitations to join a family at the table. And don’t go to the family which you have never visited before with an empty hand. It is like taboo. If you can’t eat because of some reasons, decline politely by bowing to show gratitude.
  • Don’t eat in front of others without asking them to come and eat the food. And don’t serve or eat without washing your hands.
  • If you are a woman, offer to help the man and not neglect to offer to help. It is a rude gesture.
  • Don’t ask to be served when it is not your turn because people are served according to age, or status. Eldest and esteemed guests are served first.
  • If you are a host, don’t sit down if your hosts are standing
  • Don’t start eating. If the food has not been blessed
  • Don’t wait for someone to serve you; there is always a shared platter to dish food from. Don’t eat directly from that dish instead of taking a separate plate to eat from.
  • Don’t look for utensils, and don’t eat with your left hand. Scooping is with your right fingers. Never with the left hand.
  • Don’t let your fingers touch a scoop if you are with one. And don’t rush a meal so that you can move away. And it is a taboo to finish the last drop of food on the plate.
  • Don’t ask for animal products or meat during fasting days, especially on Wednesdays and Friday.
  • Don’t look forward to eating pork meat or alcohol since Muslims don’t like it, as Christians detest alcohol.
  • Don’t rush your coffee or leave after the first round.
  • Don’t give alcohol or what a religion hates them.


Do you know that everyone uses hands to eat, and once you’re given any gift, you’ll smile to receive it? Ethiopian love guests and expects you to love them back. Therefore, we’ll let you also know some of the things you could know in Ethiopia.

  • Guests are treated specially.

If you are a guest, they would like to feed you well, treat you well, and embrace you – these are simple politeness signs. Therefore, show them gratitude by bowing and smiling. In the morning, afternoon, and dinner, you should be expecting similar ingredients. Some common foods comprise meat stew with spice, sauce, bread, roasted bread, or spaghetti. You will enjoy goat, lamb, or fowl, while pork, ham, and turkey are not common.

  • Drinking coffee

This is a common drink in Ethiopia, and it is their symbol. They use it to quicken conversation among themselves. So, when you see it, try to join them. Serving coffee is like a ritual process; sit on the floor, pillows, or a soft surface with incense burning around the place.

When they serve you some coffee, hold it close to the lips to inhale the scent before gulping it down gradually. They love giving gifts, and you can pass a gift with two hands and not one hand only. And open gifts after some time. You are also expected to bring some gifts when coming from a distant place. And even when they are mourning, they can give or receive gifts, and are expected to give back.


In Ethiopia, you could enjoy your visit if you could do all these things while avoiding don’ts. Once you study the culture of a place, you could endeavor to adhere to it.

It is worthy of note that you have to resist embarrassing people through your speeches. Always mind when you ask for a favor if they say let’s see, understand it is no, doesn’t press harder. Try to understand and respect their culture, religion, and language. They will love you for that.

Also show gratitude, apologies, speak with good sound and gentle tone. Laugh and joke with them! I assure you; you’ll not forget the place forever!

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