(in celebration of the Invention of (the True) Cross in Addis Abeba)
(UNESCO World Cultual Heritage)
The Meskel Festival commemorates the Invention of the (True) Cross where Jesus was crucified.
According to legend, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine (the Great), Helena, was heading for Jerusalem when a pillar of smoke guided her the way to the cross.
The festivities usually take place on September 27 and they are the most exuberant religious celebration of Ethiopia. On the evening before big bonfires are piled up and hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Christians join in singing and dancing. The following day many Christians take the ashes and draw crosses on their foreheads. The whole country is adorned with sensational yellow flowers which blossom at the end of the rainy season.
The holiday in the capital Addis Abeba is exceptionally impressive and is celebrated on Meskal Square.
This festival takes place in Axum on November 29 and 30. In Ethiopia Axum is a sacred place for Orthodox Christians. According to legend, the original Ark of the Covenant with the Ten Commandments is preserved/ can be found there as Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Saba, brought it on his return from Jerusalem.
At Hidar Zion Axum is solemly decorated and especially the Cathedral and the House where the Ark of Covenant is kept are worth a visit. Thousands of pilgrims celebrate with liturgies and special dances.
In Ethiopia Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas around January 7. For tourists Christmas in Laliebla is recommendable because they celebrate the birth of Jesus and the birth of King Laliebla at the same time and, thus, the festivities are especially magnificent there.
Timkat belongs to one of the most important holidays in the orthodox calendar. On the evening before priests carry tablets, a replica of the Tablets of Law, in a ceremonial procession to different baptistries. Thousands of Orthodox Christians follow them dancing, singing and praying while they try to catch a glimpse of the large silver crosses and precious parasols made of velvet and brocade at the front of the procession.
This holiday is celebrated everywhere in Ethiopia.
Beside Jesus, Mary is the most important saint for Orthodox Christians in Ehtiopia.
The 24th day of each month is dedicated to the mercy of Mary. In Bahir Dar people celebrate with a solemn procession on the peninsula Zegi.
Easter is the most important holiday for Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia.
Although the date varies every year, it is usually celebrated one week after Easter in Europe many deeply religious/ pious Orthodox Christians do not eat anything /fast on Good Friday and Saturday. On Good Friday they attend mass all day. Lent ends at 3 a.m. on Easter Sunday. During Lent people are not allowed to eat before 3 p.m. and it is forbidden to eat any animal products.
Archangel Michael is the most important angel of the Orthodox church in Ethiopia. As he and King Laliebla died on the same day, people remember these important men. Pilgrims of all religions visit this festivity in Laliebla and take part in the big procession in Laliebla.
Ashenda Mariam is a festival celebrated in northern Ethiopia by the Orthodox church. This festival, which takes place every year between August 16 and August 26, is especially for girls and young women.
Young women wear gowns with tufts of grass which they tie around their waist. During this celebration, which lasts up to 16 days, young women have the right to get to know their future husband and they may show their feelings openly. Men fight against each other to please and impress young women.