Meskel Celebration, (Finding of the True Cross), (September 27);
Maskal has been celebrated in the country for over 1,600 years. The word actually means "cross" and the feast commemorates the discovery of the Cross--upon which Jesus was crucified--by Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The original event took place on 19 March, AD 326, but the feast is now celebrated on 27 September, except on leap year which fails on the 28th.
On the eve of Maskal tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called maskal flowers, are placed at the top. During the night these branches are gathered together in front of the compound gates and ignited. This symbolizes the actions of the Empress who, when no one would show her the Holy Sepulcher, lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted she dug and found three crosses. To one of them, the True Cross, many miracles were attributed.
Maskal also signifies the physical presence of the True Cross at the remote mountain monastery of Gishen Mariam located in the Welo region.
Meskel marks a tourist season in Ethiopia.During this time of the year flowers, gloom on mountain and plain and the meadows are yellow with brilliant Meskel daisy. UNESCO has registered Meskel on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.