Inflation Threatening the Culture of Giving

The purpose of the holidays is to honor the things that bind people together in life. The holidays are also a time for giving beyond offering appreciation and expressing gratitude to loved ones– often in the way of gifts. This year, the culture of gift-giving faces a formidable foe in the form of unabated inflation, writes EBR’s Trualem Asmare.

The finest approach to celebrating with loved ones is to come together and express gratitude to and for one another. According to studies, frequently expressing appreciation can improve our mental health, heighten happy feelings, raise our self-esteem, and lessen negativity. Even though the holidays are a time for introspection, if people practice gratitude every day, they might all benefit from the joy it can provide.

Religious holidays are colorful, vibrant occasions in Ethiopia. A holiday visitation ritual is one of the most important components of Ethiopian culture. Easter, Christmas, Timket, and Meskel are all recognized Christian holidays. Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha are further well-known Muslim holidays.

One of the most important Christian holidays in Ethiopia is Christmas, or Genna. The name Genna derives from the word “gennana”, which means “imminent” and refers to the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ and deliverance of mankind from sin. Christmas is observed on January 7th (of the Gregorian calendar), much like in places such as Russia and Greece . Christmas celebrations get underway as early as six in the morning when people gather for mass in churches. Ethiopians then go back to their houses to feast. In small groups of friends and family, Christmas is quietly shared and celebrated.

In both rural and urban Ethiopia, presenting gifts on a holiday is customary. In rural areas, people will take injera and bread to the houses of friends and relatives, while in urban areas, fruit and bread are more common gifts. Although the tradition has been around for a long time, it appears to be losing recognition. As times change, the impression is growing that giving gifts is less an Ethiopian tradition than a practice more typical of European culture that has gained popularity due to globalization.

Still, gift-giving is customary and prevalent during the Christmas season. Whenever Ethiopians consider Christmas, a gift is frequently the first thing that comes to mind. People visit clothing stores, gift shops, and other businesses throughout the holiday season, looking for the perfect present.

In addition to strengthening friendships and relationships, giving gifts is a terrific way for individuals in the gift industry to make money. But this year, the culture of gifts was hampered by inflation, which also had an impact on the workforce. Gift shops were deserted as customers cannot cope with the skyrocketing prices caused by the severe shortage of forex added to the latest ban on imports. Most commodities are imported from other nations.“The market is not good now,  we just sit down the whole day with not a single visitor to our shops,” says Selam Teshome. She owns a gift business at Bethlehem Plaza in the Megenagna neighborhood. Jewelry, perfume, and other feminine goods can be found on her shelves. Selam recalls that over the holidays the year before, she had made a sizable sum of money. She claims she had barely had time to sit down as customers rushed in to buy gifts for their family and friends. The reality has changed now as the prices for many of the goods on offer have skyrocketed as a result of inflation.

“It is so frustrating to sit and hang around. We’re not even able to afford the rent.” Selam told EBR.

Kalid Mohammed, who owns a timepiece retail business in the Haya Hulet area, said that he cleared the inventory storage this time because there isn’t a market. Many of the beautiful watches on his displays are likely to go unsold over this holiday season. Kalid says there are hardly any visitors to his store anymore, while the air of festivity that used to accompany holidays in the past is practically gone.

Bilen Tefera says she has decided not to buy any gifts for her loved ones this year as prices have become untenable. The 26-year-old works for a private company, and had attempted to go gift shopping before giving up due to a lack of affordable options.

“The prices are not a fair reflection of our income,” Bilen told EBR. “We used to be able to buy what we wanted at the price we wanted, but this has changed. It is frustrating and has an impact on the culture of giving gifts.” EBR

11th Year • Jan 2023 • No. 114

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