Meskel (Finding of the true cross)
Meskel is one of the biggest religious festivals among Ethiopian Orthodox followers that commemorates a fourth century event where Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. This festival is also registered with UNESCO as an element of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The centrepiece of this unique festival is the lighting of a massive conical bonfire called a Damera and all the dancing and feasting surrounding it. The largest Meskel gathering takes place in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square, where hundreds of thousands of people, both locals and tourists, gather to watch the colourfully dressed priests chant, pray and dance.
There are also equally magnificent celebrations across the country, including in Axum and Gondar.