As millions of people celebrate World Tourism Day 2019 across the globe with the theme “Tourism and jobs: A brighter future for all”.
Ethiopia celebrates “Meskel Festival” a yearly open air religious festival to commemorate the discovery of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. According to legend, in the year 326 AD Queen Helena went on a search for the true cross and was unsuccessful until she received help through a dream.
Meskel means in the Ethiopian language “cross.” The festival is also referred to as Demera. Specifically, the use of this word seems 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.
Mr Desale Mitiku Asfaw (Ceo of Grand Holiday Ethiopia Tours) who was so excited with the twin celebration shares some pictures and videos from the meske celebration.
It was a double celebration for Grand Holiday Ethiopia Tours as world tourism day coincide with meske festival which is usually celebrated on September 26 but due to leap year, it was celebrated on September 27 which coincide with the World tourism day.
Ethiopia recently celebrate a new year which always fall on September 11 but was celebrated September 12 as it is a leap year and Meskel is 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.
Very colorful attire and costumes was displayed in the capital Addis Ababa as it draws millions of people. However, 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.
At the point where 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 seems to be paying attention to the celebration.
In attendance were tourists, diplomats and high ranking government officials for the celebration.