Meskel Festival

Fiery Religious Feast

A major religious holiday in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox churches, which celebrates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.

The Meskel Festival is a religious feast, where thousands of people gather at Meskel Square in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to commemorate St Helena’d discovery of the Cross. This festival is also registered with UNESCO as an element of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Celebration begins with Demera-procession, that takes place on the day before or on Meskel itself. Hundreds of orthodox priests and deacons donned in full ceremonial regalia, joined by Ethiopians carrying fresh bunch of yellow flowers, to usher in the Meskel festival.

At night, thousands of Demera (bonfires topped with a cross and Meskel daisies) are blessed by the priests before lighting. Mass shriek of excitement as the smoke reach the people, a sign of good fortune. Celebration of dancing, singing and feasting continues throughout the night and well into the next day.

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LocationAddis Ababa
Addis Ababa




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