Ethiopia’s Meskel Festival in Pictures




The Meskel festival is the first big festival of the Ethiopian religious year and marks the finding of the cross that Jesus was crucified on, according to Orthodox Christian tradition.

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival in Pictures

The festival traces its roots back over 1,600 years and has been celebrated every other year since then. It is held annually on Meskerem 17th in the Ethiopian calendar (September 27th Gregorian calendar), at the Meskel Square, named in honour of the festival, located in the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival in Pictures

The Meskel festival celebration begins on the eve of the Meskel Holiday with the burning of a large bonfire called Demera. The burning of the Demera is based on the belief that Queen Eleni, as she is known, had a revelation in a dream. She was told that she should make a bonfire and that the smoke would show her where the True Cross was buried. So she ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood and make a huge pile. After adding frankincense to it the bonfire was lit and the smoke rose high up to the sky and returned to the ground, exactly to the spot where the Cross had been buried.

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival in Pictures

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival in Pictures

According to local traditions, this Demera-procession takes place in the early evening the day before Meskel or on the day itself. The firewood is decorated prior to it been burnt and the Charcoal from the remains of the fire is afterwards collected and used by the faithful to mark their foreheads with the shape of a cross.

Religious and civil leaders typically preside over the celebration, and public figures give speeches and reference biblical themes and stories.

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival in Pictures

This colourful festival is not only celebrated as a public holiday in Ethiopia, but has been inscribed as UNESCO’s world heritage festival as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Many visitors and tourists from around the world travel to Ethiopia yearly to experience the religious festival every year.

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival Ethiopia's Meskel Festival

Image © instagram/mankira_media

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival Ethiopia's Meskel Festival Ethiopia's Meskel Festival Ethiopia's Meskel Festival

All photos by Amensisa Negera, Getty Images and AFP.





Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to receive email updates

With a subscription profile, you automatically receive updates without having to return to the website and check for changes

Just In

The Creation Story of the Akamba People of Kenya

In the beginning, Mulungu the creator is said to have formed a man and a woman in heaven before placing them on a rock in on earth, where it is said that their footprints, as well as the footprints of their animals, can still be seen today.

Bussa’s Rebellion of 1816, the Largest Slave Revolt in Barbadian History

The largest slave rebellion in Barbadian history took place during the Bussa uprising in April 1816. The rebellion takes its name from the African-born...

Top 10 Longest Serving Presidents in Africa, 2022

Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang is the longest serving president in Africa and the world. He is closely followed by Cameroons President Paul Biya.

Cornelius Frederiks: the Namibian Captain Who Was Locked Up in a Concentration Camp for Fighting Against German Colonialists

Cornelius Frederiks was a Namibian freedom fighter who actively fought a guerrilla-style war against German colonialists during the Herero-Nama war of 1904.

List of African Countries and Their Presidents (2022)

This is a list of African countries and their presidents, heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 2022.

More Articles Like This