Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomeTravelEthiopia celebrating Meskel Demera Holiday across the country

Ethiopia celebrating Meskel Demera Holiday across the country

Meskel Festival attracting millions of people in the capital Addis Ababa. Tourists, diplomats and high ranking government officials attend the celebration.

Meskel _ Ethiopia _ Addis Ababa
Meskel Celebration in Addis Ababa. (EBC)

September 27, 2019

Meskel in one of the biggest yearly open air religious  festivals for the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( also known as Ethiopian Church). It is also celebrated in Eritrea among orthodox Tewahdo church followers. 

The religious holiday commemorates Empress Helena’s success in discovering the true cross in Jerusalem in the fourth Century A.D. 

Meskel Means in the Ethiopian language “cross.” The festival is also referred to as Demera. specifically, the use of this word seem to be related to Bonfire  which is lit before the end of the day. In Ethiopian calendar, the day starts in the morning with the sun rise, not in the middle of the night as in the case of the Gregorian calendar. 

The day is equally divided into two – twelve hours each. From sunrise to sunset is day time and from sunset to sunrise is night time in the calendar. 

The holiday is celebrated on September 27 only when it is a leap year. Otherwise, it is celebrated on September 26.  The timing is just two weeks after the Ethiopian New Year which falls on September 11 except in the Leap Year during which the New Year falls on September 12.

The time marks the end of Ethiopia’s two month long rainy season. Landscape is green and flowers blossom during the Ethiopian New Year. It really feels like a new year.

Meskel celebration is more colorful in the capital Addis Ababa as it draws millions of people. However, is is also colorfully celebrated in towns, cities and even rural villages across the country.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church deacons, priests, choir and worshipers from different churches and diocese make an elaborate  procession to the Demera place singing about the power of the cross and its findings. 

Meskel Celebration _ Ethiopia
An aspect of Meskel Celebration at Meskel square in Addis Ababa. (EBC)

Once they reached the place where the Demera is organized, rituals in the tradition of the Ethiopian Church will take place. Among the most captivating aspects of it is Woreb , which is a very unique song of praise by the priests and deacons- truly a colorful ceremony. 

Then the  Bishops and/or the Patriarch will give benediction before he lit the bonfire Demera.  

In 2013, UNESCO has inscribed Meskel on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Meskel celebration now attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Ethiopia and it has become one of the major boosts to the country’s tourism industry. And the Ethiopian government seem to be paying attention to the celebration.

Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena



  1. I can see the socalled mahibrekidusan is crying and dancing there; they are doing thier task as they are paid for it.

    They are paid servants like a paid shepherd. But the gullible younsters following them are deceived .

    Mahibrekidusan is a hidden banda taking the church in to the hell .

    You could observe thier true indentity when you come closer and closer with them.

    They are looking after money like some pastors work day and night for thier private enterprise.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here