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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© Ministère de la jeunesse et de la culture, Djibouti, 2022

Xeedho is a dish given by a mother-in-law to her son-in-law to celebrate the first week of her daughter’s marriage. It consists of a container carved from a tree trunk, made to hold small pieces of dried dromedary meat that is fried in butter and preserved in ghee. The container is placed inside a basket, wrapped in aluminium foil and decorated with leather and shells. The arrangement is then covered with fabric and placed inside a bag made from traditional fabrics representing a woman’s set of clothes. Ropes are securely tied around the xeedho and carefully hidden. An integral part of the wedding ceremony in Djibouti and the subject of riddles and poetry, the ritual of making xeedho is transmitted informally within families, with girls watching to see how it is prepared. The bride’s mother, grandmothers, sisters and aunts invest fully in planning the marriage celebrations and preparing the xeedho, which represents a commitment on the honour of the bride and her family. The xeedho is also accompanied by other gifts for the newlyweds. A carefully prepared, high-quality xeedho reflects a mother-in-law’s appreciation for her new son-in-law, thus strengthening social ties between the families of the bride and groom.