Ethiopian Meskel (Demera); Where will the smoke blow?
Editor’s Note: The Ethiopia spiritual and traditional holiday, Meskal has been celebrated in Ethiopia for the last thousands of years. The feast commemorates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.
St. Helena then gave pieces of the cross to all the Orthodox churches. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church still claims to have its own piece, but it is hidden from public view at the remote monastery of Gishan Mariam.
Happy Ethiopian Meskel (Demera)
Where will the smoke blow?
The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last month has left Ethiopians wondering about their country’s political future. For some, that makes this year’s celebration of Meskel, beginning Thursday at sunset, all the more suspenseful.
(Radio Netherlands) – Meskel celebrants in Addis Ababa will be following the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition of building a big bonfire, known as a Demera, and processing through the streets, all the while watching where the smoke blows.
The practice is said to have originated in the fourth century with St. Helena. Following a vision that came in a dream, she created a huge fire, infused it with frankincense and let the smoke guide her to remnants of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The feast of the True Cross, as the holy day is also known, has thus come to be seen as a day of truth-seeking. No doubt many Ethiopians will be looking to the billows for answers – be they spiritual or political.