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Meskel – Demera Festival taking place at Meskel Square, nationwide

Addis Ababa, September 27, 2023 (FBC) – The Celebration of the Meskel-Demera Festival is taking place at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa in attendance of thousands of devotees, religious leaders, high officials, members of the diplomatic community and international tourists.

Masses of people have congregated at the Meskel Square to attend the UNESCO inscribed festival, one of the major religious holidays in Ethiopia that falls on 27 September every year.

Clad in traditional and religious attires, students of Sunday schools and members of the clergy are now presenting spiritual songs commemorating the Holiday.

Meskel festival marks the finding of the Tue Cross of Jesus Christ by Empress St. Helena (Eleni), mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, in the fourth century.

According to religious accounts of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Empress Helena traveled to the Holy Land to uncover the various Holy sites of Christ’s life and important relics. It is said that the Empress, after much prayer, had a great bonfire lit and had large quantities of frankincense added to it.

The smoke from this pyre is said to have guided her to the spot where the Holy Cross was buried. Today is the eve of Meskel and is called Demera, which means “bonfire”.

Following the examples set by Queen Helena and commemorating the finding of the True Cross, as the sun sets the senior clergy particularly the Patriarch and the Archbishops bless the pyre and the leading figures of the community light the bonfire amid much celebration. The crowds hold burning tapers and candles and sing well into the night as the fire burns.

In Addis Ababa, the main celebration of Demera is taking place at the Meskel Square which is the largest public open space particularly dedicated to this festival and similar events.

Similarly other cities and towns including Hawassa, Jimma, Debre Birhan, Adama, Bahir Dar and Assossa are also celebrating the Meskel-Demera Holiday with various religious and cultural events.

UNESCO inscribed Meskel in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


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