MEDA Blog - Stories from the Field

Memorable Meskel

Meskel celebration priests

Here are my brightest memories of Meskel...

meskel celebration priests
 
Meskel is the Orthodox Christian holiday commemorating the finding of the True Cross on September 27th

Man selling meskel crosses

Necklaces bearing the archaic cross are sold by the handful

Meskel Demera Bonfire

The Demera, a towering structure akin to a Christmas tree, is the centerpiece of the plaza

Ethiopian friend and canadian
My Habesha (Ethiopian) friend accompanied me to the ceremony in the city centre’s aptly named Meskel Square. Having a local take you to cultural events is infinitely better. They offer additional information on otherwise enigmatic symbols, and they are essential to helping you leave an arena brimming with thousands of Habesha trying to exit at the same time.

Queen Helena meskel

Perched atop her float, Queen Helena finds the True Cross in the 4th century.

Meskel crowd with candles

The haunting music rises in a steady crescendo, as thousands of people light candles, putting any rock concert filled with lighter-wielding fans to shame.

Meskel demera bonfireThe climax of the celebration is marked by the burning of the Demera. Smoke blankets the arena and the cloud swings in my direction. The surrounding netela-clad mass shriek in excitement. The smoke favours our section. An unmistakable sign of good fortune. Fireworks crackle two rows in front me. Meskel square is the mother of all fire hazards. But, for at least a moment, I am enchanted. Spellbound, I board Queen Helena’s float to find the True Cross with Ethiopia

 
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