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Ethiopia in Greece

Meskel : in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, is an annual religious holiday commemorating the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Eleni (Saint Helena) in the fourth century. Meskel occurs on 17 Meskerem in the Ethiopian calendar (27 September, Gregorian calendar, or 28 September in leap years). "Meskel" is from the ancient Ethiopian language Geez for "cross".

The Meskel celebration includes the burning of a large bonfire, or Demera and that is exactly what happened in Athens yesterday. That tradition is based on the belief that Queen Eleni had a revelation in a dream. She was told that the she shall make a bonfire and that the smoke would show her where the true cross was buried. So she ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood and make a huge pile. After adding frankincense to it the bonfire was lit and the smoke raised high up to the sky and returned to the ground, exactly to the spot where the Cross had been buried.

The tradition says that one part (1/4) of the holy Cross is in Ethiopia, given from the Egyptian Church at the time that Egypt been conquered by the Muslims. The Christian Ethiopian King gave help to the Egyptian Christians and as a return Egyptians gave to Ehiopia the part they had from the holy Cross.


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Taken on September 27, 2008