Ethiopian Bride’s Nickname

Informant AD is a graduate student from San Jose California, whose family is originally from Ethiopia. There is a strong Ethiopian disasporic community in San Jose, where much of its traditions live on


“The groom’s mom, or like closest maternal figure, comes up with a meaningful name for the bride. Some people have random ones like ብርሃን ናት (“birhan nat,” or “she is bright,” roughly). It’s supposed to be meaningful to how the groom’s mom feels towards the bride.”


Informant AM witnessed this tradition in primarily Ethiopian Orthodox Christian weddings. Ethiopia is a country with 36 million Orthodox Christians as of 2017, according to the Pew Research Center (Diamant). Ethiopian Orthodox culture places heavy emphasis on the family. Traditionally, the name that the groom’s mother gives to the bride is known as የዳቦ ስም,or ye dabo sim, which translates roughly to “name of the bread” or “bread name.” This name is traditionally given during an event after the wedding and wedding reception known as the መልሴ, or “melse.” The nickname is usually granted while breaking bread for everyone to eat, and each attendee must recite the dabo sim before being able to eat the bread (Habeshabrides).


The ritual re-naming of the bride is a symbolic aspect of an Ethiopian ceremony — from my own observation, as the bride rarely uses the name — but it reflects the influence of family on this important time: the groom’s mother— a family member not directly involved in the wedding itself — is granted the privilege of renaming the bride, and the name thus represents the interconnection of two families. Thus, the naming ceremony reflects not only the bonding of two individuals, but two families.

Works Cited:

Diamant, Jeff. “Ethiopia Is an Outlier in the Orthodox Christian World.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 17 Aug. 2020,,largest%20Orthodox%20population%20after%20Russia. 

“Brides of the Blue Nile.” Habeshabrides,