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Happy Meskel

Posted by addisethiopia 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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3 Responses to “Happy Meskel”

  1. Joseph Biddulph (Pontypridd, Cymru. Proud member of St Dyfrig's Catholic Parish) said

    It would be useful if the book in question was available in both Ethiopic and a faithful English translation – if not already. I’m sure a lot of ignorance concerning Ethiopica springs from the difficulties in finding good information on the Ethiopian Church and its literature, as well as the over-readiness of Western scholars to apply the word “Apocryphal” to traditionally Ethiopian sources.
    Medieval Christian literature in Europe is allowed to form its own genres and types – although scholars think they are cleverer if they dismiss the miraculous and wonderful without citing evidence rather than trace the sources and dates: a prime example must be the finding of the head of Saint Edmund of East Anglia by a wolf, who guarded it – witnessed by a contemporary, and written down shortly afterwards. The anti-miracle approach gives the erroneous impression that European literature of this type is “licked” and properly sorted and understood, while anything Ethiopic is automatically suspect, primitive, legendary, and a bit ridiculous. What is wrong with applying exactly the same textual science to either kind of document? I rather fear however that editing Ethiopic manuscripts is not very lucrative these days, if it ever was, and that only some fanatic or feckless poor scholar would offer his services. Perhaps therefore I should put my own hand up and say, “If there’s something i could do in that line, let me know.”

    • addisabram said

      I agree on most of your thoughts. “lucrativeness” or “popularity” have little relevance/importance in The Kingdom of God. Well, we should believe those who are seeking the truth, and doubt those who find it. Thanking you,

  2. […] of the 1st US presidential debate Monday, 26 September 2016 is not by accident: Ethiopia will celebrate one of its important Christian Holidays on Monday (Demera) and Tuesday […]

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