Ethiopia’s rich cultural tapestry is woven with traditions and celebrations that span centuries.
The most significant and vibrant of these is the Meskel festival, celebrated with great fervor by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
The Ethiopian community in Uganda, led by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, recently came together to mark Meskel Eve on the 16th of September, according to the Ethiopian calendar. The event was graced by the presence of Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Etsegenet Yimenu Bezabih, and other embassy staffers. The celebration was held at the Medhane Alem Church.
The Meskel Glorious Celebration
Meskel, which means “cross” in Ge’ez, the ancient liturgical language of Ethiopia, commemorates the discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. According to Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition, Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, played a crucial role in the discovery.
It is believed that she had a revelation in a dream, guiding her to the location of the True Cross. To celebrate this miraculous event, Meskel Eve is marked with prayers, processions, and the lighting of a bonfire.
Meskel takes place on the 27th of September, or 28th during a leap year, Gregorian calendar.
The Meskel Eve Celebration in Uganda
In Uganda, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community eagerly anticipates the Meskel celebration every year. The event is a testament to the unity and vibrancy of the Ethiopian diaspora in the country. The Meskel Eve celebration in Uganda replicates the grandeur and solemnity of the festivities held in Ethiopia.
Meskel celebration begins with a religious procession. Priests and congregants gather to march with a replica of the True Cross, adorned with flowers and lit candles. This procession symbolizes Queen Helena’s journey to discover the Cross.
The highlight of the evening is the lighting of a large bonfire, symbolizing the bonfire that Queen Helena lit to guide her to the True Cross. As the flames illuminate the night, prayers are recited, and hymns are sung to honor the Cross.
Meskel Eve is not only a religious occasion but also a cultural celebration. Ethiopian communities in Uganda showcase their rich cultural heritage through traditional dances, songs, and attire. It is a time for unity and sharing the vibrant Ethiopian culture with others.
No Ethiopian celebration is complete without delicious cuisine. Meskel Eve is an opportunity to savor traditional Ethiopian dishes such as injera (a sourdough flatbread), doro wat (spicy chicken stew), and tej (honey wine). These dishes add a delightful taste of Ethiopia to the event.
Beyond its religious and cultural significance, Meskel Eve serves as a platform for the Ethiopian community in Uganda to come together. It fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity among members of the diaspora, making them feel closer to their homeland.
Meskel Eve is not just a celebration; it’s a bridge that connects the Ethiopian diaspora in Uganda to their roots and heritage, reminding them of the enduring beauty and significance of their traditions. It is an event that showcases the diversity and unity of the Ethiopian community in Uganda, making it a cherished occasion for all who participate.