Meskel ⇒ the founding of True Cross


Meskel, one of the major Ethiopian Orthodox festivals is celebrated for two days beginning September 26th.

The feast commemorates the discovery of the cross, upon which Jesus crucified by the Empress Helena who no one would show her the holy sepulcher, lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted she dug and found three crosses.

There are two occasions on Meskel. The first is Demera (September 26), in which bonfires are built topped by a cross to which flowers are tied. ** The flower is a special yellow flower which only grow during September when rainy season ends.

The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church orchestrates the lightening ceremony. After the bonfires are blessed they are lit and dancing and singing begins around them. Priests in full ceremonial dress sing around the bonfire.

” Demera “


Little Demera are also built at individual houses or villages. After some time, splinters from the bundles of burning wood collapse.

The day after the Demera is Meskel. This day is observed with plenty of food and drink as believers go to the spot of the Demera and, using ashes from the fire, mark their heads with the sign of the cross.

The best place to see the Meskel Festival is in the capital Addis Ababa at the famous Meskel Square.

But in Bahir Dar, Gonder, Axum, Lalibela and in other major towns, Meskel is colorfully celebrated.

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