Meskel: Burning the Cross

Every year on September 27th, Orthodox Christians in Abi Adi burn a wooden cross to celebrate the finding of Jesus’ true cross.  Rumor has it that the Empress Helena found the cross upon which Jesus was crucified on this day 1600 years ago.  Now the holiday is celebrated with a lively ceremony culminating with a massive fire.  The ceremony starts with speeches and blessings but as soon as the priests start the fire, people circle around the blaze singing traditional songs, dancing, and making lots of noise.  It’s awesome!  Finally the fire does its work and the cross falls to the dirt.  The direction that it falls indicates where there will be good fortune in the next year.  Once it hits the ground, people swarm into the fire, or what’s left of it, to grab charcoal and embers.  Then, they pulverize this into black soot and mark each other’s foreheads with a cross.  It was an amazing ceremony: so much fire!!!   Pictures are worth more than my words in this case…

A very hot fire!!

A very hot fire!!

Priests and the mayor prepare to bless the cross

Priests and the mayor prepare to bless the cross

The whole town showed up to watch

The whole town showed up to watch

This guy had a trumpet AND a megaphone and was doing a really good job making noise with the two!

This guy had a trumpet AND a megaphone and was doing a really good job making noise with the two!

Parishioners circling the fire with huge hand-drums

Parishioners circling the fire with huge hand-drums

Clapping and singing

Clapping and singing

The main body of the fire fell all at once, leaving the main cross standing

The main body of the fire fell all at once, leaving the main cross standing

After the main cross fell, pandemonium erupted as people rushed to grab embers

After the main cross fell, pandemonium erupted as people rushed to grab embers

Embers were crushed so that the soot could be used to paint crosses onto people's foreheads

Embers were crushed so that the soot could be used to paint crosses onto people’s foreheads

The procession heading back to the church after completing the ceremony

The procession heading back to the church after completing the ceremony

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About copelaf

photographer, writer, engineer, eater, traveler, and - occasionally - a thinker.
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2 Responses to Meskel: Burning the Cross

  1. Debbie Boswell says:

    Beautiful photos Fo!

  2. Pingback: Meskal in Meskal Square | Fotos

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