The Meskel festival is observed to commemorate the discovery of the True Cross upon which Christ was crucified. It’s the most important events in the spiritual part of Ethiopian culture which is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as Demmera.
The history goes back to 4th c with Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine. That she traveled to Jerusalem and started to excavate by lit incense and prayed for assistance from God in her search for the cross. Then the smoke from the incense drifted in the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses: one of them was the true cross on which Jesus Christ died. The original event took place on September 26, 326 AD and found it in 19 March 327 AD.
The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17th on the Ethiopian calendar (September 27th on the Gregorian calendar), six months after the discovery of the true cross. The celebration of Meskel recognizes the presence of the true cross in Ethiopia at the Mountain of Gishen Miriam monastery, and also recognizes Empress Helena’s road to finding it. During this time of the year flowers gloom on mountain and plain and the meadows are yellow with the brilliant Meskel daisy. Dancing, feasting, merrymaking, bonfires and even gun salutes mark the occasion.
Orthodox christians gather and light a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as Demmera.
Members of the church choirs chant hymns.