Meskel Demera (bonfire) is one the Ethiopian Church holidays that attracts thousands of tourists to the country.
Ethiopians have colorfully celebrated Meskel holiday today at Meskel Square in the capital Addis Ababa and across the country. Open-air bonfire is among the many attractive features of the holiday. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Ethiopia and is registered as a heritage with UNESCO.
In the Ethiopian Church traditions, Meskel is a commemoration of the rediscovery of true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. A piece of the cross is believed to be in Gishen Mariam, Wollo, in north central Ethiopia.
What makes the celebration unique for the Ethiopian church this year is that the division within the synod is ended and the fourth Patriarch of Ethiopia, Abune Merkorios, attended it after 27 years in exile.
Abune Mathias, the sixth patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, conveyed a message of Unity. “The teachings of the Holy Cross are love, forgiveness, and unity,” he told millions of faithful who gathered at Meskel square for the celebration.
He also called Ethiopians to avoid mistrust, suspicion.
President of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, and acting Mayor of Addis Ababa, Takele Uma, joined followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church followers at Meskel square and were part of the bonfire lit ceremony.
The celebration happened a week after a deadly ethnic-based massacre in Burayu, outside of Addis Ababa, which perhaps influenced the mayor’s message at Meskel square.
“Ethiopia is not a kind of country that will disintegrate as some would think. It has a strong foundation. It is not possible to make us find ourselves in conflict. The fabric that holds us together is millennium years old. When we look as if we are cloudy like kiremt [Ethiopian winter], we radiate like the flames of the bonfire,” said the Mayor insinuating that recent violence are the works of those who would like to see Ethiopia fail and disintegrate.
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