In Ethiopia at this time of the year thousands of members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church gather to celebrate the festivals of Demera and Maskal.
In Ethiopia at this time of the year thousands of members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church gather to celebrate the festivals of Demera and Maskal. The festivals recall the fourth century pilgrimage of Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the First.
SYNOPSIS: The main observance was held in the capital, Addis Ababa on Thursday (27 September). The festival commemorates the finding of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Demera is the eve of Maskal and is marked by religious services and the lighting of huge bonfires. It's a time for priests and the people to mingle and everyone wears their most lavish costumes and robes.
His Holyness Abunna Tekel Haimanot, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, participated in the ceremonies, accompanied by archbishops, heads of churches, clergy and laity.
Ethiopia has been a Christian country since the fourth century, although there is also a large Muslim community. The Ethiopian church gained independence from the minority Coptic Church in Egypt in 1959.
On Demera, in accordance with custom, the Patriarch displays the treasured golden cross to the people and blesses the congregation.
Then it's time for the symbolic bonfire to be lit.
This year robed choral groups of the country's youth were on hand to sing the spiritual songs which associate the ancient religious meaning of Maskal to the even older rites of the coming of Spring, the renewal of fertility.