Meskal is second in importance only to Timket and has been celebrated for over 1,600 years. The word actually means “cross” and the feast commemorates when the cross of Christ was revealed to Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
In Addis Ababa, celebrations start in the early afternoon when a procession bearing flaming torches approaches Meskal Square from various directions. Participants include Priests in brightly colored vestments, students, brass bands, contingents of the armed forces and floats carrying huge lit crosses. They circle the “demera” and fling torches upon it while singing a special Meskal song.
Thousands gather at the Square to bid farewell to the rains and welcome in “Tseday” the spring season with it’s profuse “Meskal” daisies and golden sunshine. As evening darkens, the flames glow brighter. It is not until dawn that the burning pyramid consumes itself entirely and the big tree at the center finally falls. During the celebrations, houses are stocked with “tella” the local beer, and strangers are made welcome.