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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Travel + Adventure = Healing - Ethiopia - 9 - Coptic Crosses

On my last day of the two hanging out with Free, I wanted to treat her and our driver to something special. Our driver said he didn’t want or “need” anything, but I teased him about needing a pair of sunglasses (when the sun was out, it was blazing brilliantly, and I couldn’t fathom driving without a pair). He waved me off and said, “No,” politely. So the next best thing to a new pair of sunglasses is cash, right? That is what he got! I was grateful for his time in showing off most of Addis Ababa and even some points of interest on the outskirts of the city.

But Free was different and girly…enough. Our driver drove us all over the area, including a market in Addis and the old stadium, which housed little shops of leather bags and jewelry. I love both and knew I could buy some souvenirs that would fit into my suitcases, provided I found appealing something(s).

I bet you can guess I found several appealing somethings to bring home with me.

However, the first order of business was finding something for Free. We went into several shops and found a place she had her sights on for a sterling silver Ethiopian Coptic cross. The shop was clean and lit up to showcase all the silver jewelry in the cases. I told Free to select anything she’d like and had an excellent saleslady take care of us while we browsed and tried on different necklaces. It’s like we were best friends for years because of how giddy we were in this shop.

Several minutes later, both Free and I had selected our favorites. I couldn’t believe how thankful she was, and she hugged me hard as the saleslady rang up my purchases. (I bought a few extra cross necklaces for souvenirs, but none as big as Free’s—hers was exceptional.)

So, what exactly is a Coptic cross? The crosses are rich in symbolism and have a rich history in Ethiopia. The traditional Coptic cross has a simple design with equal-length arms, but the elaborate, stylized design is markedly distinct from other Christian cross variants. Ethiopian crosses are almost always made from elaborate latticework, and the intertwined lattice represents everlasting life. Free and I walked out of the shop, arms locked, with our necklaces prominently around our necks, ala Schmiel Schmazel Hasenpfeffer incorporated (from Laverne and Shirley TV show). It was a great day for all of us!

Photos (R-L): 3) my Coptic cross necklace, 2) set up for a coffee and popcorn greeting, and 1) Free with the salesperson in trying on necklaces.

In case you are wondering, we were welcomed with a short coffee and popcorn since our driver was waiting for us a few blocks away. (We had to be polite and partake of the ritual—it's what the culture merits, and I loved it!). And from the looks of all those cups, they must do a terrific business in sterling silver Coptic crosses.





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