Ethiopia's Events and Festivals
Ethiopia has been the home of different religious festival attractions from time immemorial where one can see colorful local feast-days or traditional celebrations. Ethiopia is unique in dates of Epiphany, Easter, Christmas and many other holidays. The finding of the True Cross festival (Meskel) is one of the religious events and festivals that are uniquely celebrated in Ethiopia.
There are several times of the year in Ethiopia when the entire country comes together in the celebrations of events and festivals of great significance. Addis Ababa is one of the many places in Ethiopia which retain traces of outdoor Christian festivals such as but not limited to The Finding of the True Cross Festival and the Ethiopian Epiphany celebration. September, November and January are the best times of the year to attend religious festivals in Ethiopia. It is worth planning your visit to Ethiopia to correspond with either of the below occasions, as there is nothing like them to be seen anywhere else in the world.
The Finding of the True Cross Festival (Meskel)
The Finding of the True Cross Festival's history is connected to Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. While searching for the original cross of Jesus, she prayed for a sign and got one from a smoking, upright bundle of sticks. The direction that the last stick standing fell would be the direction where the true cross would be found. A piece of the true cross was then brought to Gishen Mariam Church. Therefore, in memory of Empress Helena, on the Eve of September 27, the actual day the cross was found.
Christmas here in Ethiopia falls on January 7 every year. The warmest celebration of this festival holds in Lalibela where hundreds of tourists attend it.
Ethiopian Epiphany is a holiday that has the largest numbers in attendance, which falls on January 19 every year and most of its ceremony takes place outside church compounds. The eve of Ethiopian Epiphany is the one time that the replicas of the Arks of the Covenant , which every Ethiopian Orthodox Church must have, leaves their sanctuaries and find resting places outside, preferably near the water.