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Meskel - Ethiopian

Meskel, also known as the Finding of the True Cross, is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Damera". 

This feast commemorates the day in

 

the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified.

The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on 17th September (according to the Ethiopian calendar) which is 27th September according to the Gregorian calendar.  This date is six months after the discovery of the True Cross, when the cross had arrived at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery.

The festival also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena. One day, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted in a particular direction. She dug and found three crosses.  One of them was the cross used to crucify Jesus. Empress Helena gave a piece of this cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church.

This piece of the cross was brought to Ethiopia. According to Ethiopian legend, when people got close to the piece of the cross it made them feel naked because of its powerful light. It was therefore decided to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region.

The monastery of Gishen Mariam has a book which records the story of the cross and how it was acquired.

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 07:41

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