Members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities gathered on September 27 at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Bunga to observe the Annual Meskel Festival. This festival is a religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, dedicated to honoring the discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans.
According to Mr. Anthony Samuel, one of the festival organizers, historical accounts state that in the 4th Century BC, the Roman Empress Helena had a dream instructing her to find the true cross of Jesus Christ. This cross was believed to have been thrown into a ditch or well and covered with litter. Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, persevered in her quest until she found a place where three crosses, including the one used for the crucifixion of Jesus, were buried. She followed the direction indicated by smoke from a burning fire to locate it.
The celebration of Meskel is considered highly significant in Ethiopia and is regarded as one of the most important religious holidays. Samuel also highlighted that during the Middle Ages, the Patriarch of Alexandria gave the Ethiopian Emperor Dewit a fragment of the True Cross in recognition of the protection provided to Coptic Christians. This fragment is believed to be kept at Gishen Mariam, approximately 70 kilometers northwest of Dessie City.
It is worth noting that Meskel is celebrated globally, with participants from various backgrounds, regardless of age, gender, language, or ethnicity. It is believed that those who take part in the celebration receive spiritual rewards and blessings associated with the Holy Cross.
In 2013, UNESCO recognized the feast of the finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ as part of the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The event that took place on Wednesday in Uganda marks the first ever Meskel Festival celebration in the country, occurring 2016 years after Jesus’s death, according to the Ethiopian calendar, which now reads as 2016.