General information on Meskel Religious celebration in Ethiopia and Addis Ababa

Why Meskel is important religious festival for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians?

How Meskel is celebrated in Addis Ababa

The word “Meskel” (sometimes spelled as Maskal or Masqal) literally means “CROSS” in Amharic language – the official language of Ethiopia. Meskel (written in Amharic as “መስቀል”) is one of the most famous religious festivals in Ethiopia for Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Christianity followers.

Meskel (or Masqal) Festival is celebrated in honor of the discovery of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ has been crucified upon. According to the legend, in 326 AD, the Roman Empress St. Elena dreamed (has seen vision) on how to find where the True Cross was hidden.

Empress St. Elena had ordered her people to burn a big bonfire whose smoke had pointed exactly where the True Cross was buried.

Please get detailed information about Meskel Festival in Ethiopia. Contact Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours directly if you are wondering how you may Experience Meskel events in Addis Ababa.

Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Christianity believe that one arm of the ‘True Cross’ is found in Northern Ethiopia at Amba Gishen. The Patriarch of Alexandria is handed the Cross (known in Amharic as Gimade Meskelu (ግማደ መስቀሉ)) the Ethiopian Emperor Dawit for his protection of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Even though this Cross is kept in the Amba Gishen Mountains in Northern Ethiopia, Meskel celebration is held most colorfully in Addis Ababa at the central square in Addis Ababa city – (MESKEL SQUARE).

Recent actions of other religious groups take the title of owning Meskel Square is drawing a lot of attention among different other religious groups in the country.

As history affirms and should continue, the colorful and vibrant celebration of Meskel Festival should take place at the same place – Meskel Square. That is the view our Team at Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours.

But, it is also our belief that other religious groups (Muslims and Protestants) may use the place for holding their religious activities the same way other public events are carried out at the same place.

Meskel Celebration is two days affair. In Addis Ababa, on September 27 afternoon, there will be a big bonfire lit in memory of the one burnt by Empress Elena.

High government officials, foreign diplomats, leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and thousands of colorfully attired Christians attend this ceremony as the Demera (ደመራ) – the bonfire is lit.

During the Meskel Celebrations, young Ethiopian Christians from different churches in Addis Ababa march to Meskel square singing religious songs and dancing.

September 28 is the main Meskel holiday where people enjoy getting together and feast at home.

IMPORTANT – If you are planning to attend Meskel Celebration, know that the religious activities are held one day earlier than the date of Meskel on the calendar.

Ethiopia has a lot of interesting cultural, historical, religious, natural, and archaeological sites. Ethiopia ranks #1 in Africa with sites registered by UNESCO. Meskel celebration is one of Ethiopia’s intangible cultural heritage listed among UNESCO’s World Heritages.

Please check out our tour offers in and around Addis Ababa.

Contact us for best experience of Meskel Celebration in Addis Ababa.

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