The festival of Meskel is one of the most important festivals among followers of Ethiopian Christianity mainly for Orthodox Tewahedo churches. This magnificent celebration takes place in every year on 27th of September. The word ‘’Meskel’’ means “cross” and the feast honors the discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified and it has been celebrated in the country for more than 1,600 years. This festival registered in 2013 by UNESCO as one of the world intangible heritage.

On the eve of Maskel the festival begins by planting a green tree on town squares, villages and market places. Everyone brings a pole topped with Meskel daisies to the towering pyramid that will soon be a beacon of flame. Usually dried branches of eucalyptus trees and simple tree twigs called ‘’Chibo’’ are used to light the bundle of branches called ‘’Demera ‘.Thousands gather at the square to join in, dancing, feasting, merrymaking, bonfires, and even gun salutes mark the occasion; they circle the Demera while singing a special Meskel song until dawn.

This ritual symbolizes the actions of Empress Eleni whom, when no one would show her the Holly Sepulcher, she lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted she dug and found three crosses. One of these three crosses, the true cross, was attributed to its many miraculous works. After some time passed, the right wing of the True Cross is moved and placed at a crossed mountainous monastery called Gishen Mariyam in Wollo area in Northern Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa and all over the country the celebrations start in the early afternoon. A huge number of pageants and people bearing “Chibo” approach Meskel Square from various directions. It is the most colorful celebration all over the country; particularly it is special for the southern nation nationalities and peoples, it taken as a day of NEW YEAR.



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