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Archive for September, 2012

Happy Meskel

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on September 22, 2012

Meskel is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as “Damera”. Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17 Ethiopian calendar (September 27 Gregorian calendar), 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolizes the events carried out by Empress Helena.

According to tradition, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region. The monastery of Gishen Mariam holds a volume of a book which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired.

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Enkutatash: Happy Ethiopian New 2005 Year

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on September 9, 2012

Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, marks the end of the rainy reason and the beginning of the spring sunshine. While Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, the holiday falls on September 11th according to the Western or Gregorian calendar, except for leap years, when it occurs on September 12th.

Enkutatash, meaning “gift of jewels” in Amharic, originally derives from the story of the Queen of Sheba returning from visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem, according to popular legend. When the Queen arrived, she was greeted by her Ethiopian chiefs with enku, jewels. This joyful holiday has supposedly been celebrated since this time, marked by dancing and singing across the green countryside, budding with spring flowers.

Enkutatash is a very festive occasion. After attending church in the morning, families gather to share a traditional meal of injera (flat bread) and wat (stew). Later in the day, young girls donning new clothes, gather daisies and present friends with a bouquet, singing New Year’s songs. They often receive a small gift in return, usually either money or bread. Young boys paint pictures of saints to give away and also receive a small token in return. The day of festivities winds down with families visiting friends and sharing a drink of tella, Ethiopian beer, while children go out and spend their newly received riches.

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Posted in Ethiopia | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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