Ethiopian Escapades – Day 1 – Meskel Square on Fire (Addis)


Shortly after arriving in Addis, I went to the historic Meskel Square to witness the festival commemorating the discovery of the True Cross, which according to Ethiopian legend, is the cross on which Christ was crucified.

Approximately 200,000 Ethiopians and spectators celebrated the religious holiday by taking part in a candle-lit vigil. Chanting in unison, the crowd anxiously awaited the lighting of the tree. Once lit, the massive bonfire erupted creating a mushroom cloud of smoke.

After the ceremony, the mob poured into a narrow gate on their way out. My friends and I were dragged into the mosh pit and carried along with the crowd. To avoid being trampled to death, we seeped through the mass and waited in a corner until the crowd died down.

Meskel Festival

Guy at Meskel Festival

(Fun fact: The Meskel Festival has been celebrated for over 1,600 years.)

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