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Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church celebrates Meskel in Oakland

on October 1, 2012

Ethiopians from around the Bay Area came to Medhane Alem church in Oakland on Sunday to celebrate Meskel, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian holiday that commemorates the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena. During the late afternoon celebration, crowds gathered in the soft glow of the afternoon sun to eat injera (an Ethiopian flatbread), recite prayers, and dance around a replica of the True Cross, which was lit on fire soon after sunset.

The holiday dates back to the fourth century AD, when Saint Helena is believed to have used the smoke from a bonfire to find the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Today, the holiday is as much an occasion for the Ethiopian diaspora to celebrate their roots as it is a community event to raise funds for traditional religious institutions like the Medhane Alem church, and an occasion to spend time with friends and family.

Meskel is the first major holiday of the Ethiopian calendar. People dress in white because the color is believed to be pure, signaling a fresh start to the new year.


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  2. Redahegn on December 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Whatever happened in the dark came to the light.The rumor about the practice of the senior military officers like Samora participating in TPLF gang sodomizing and gang raping the young soldiers was finally found to be true.According to people on the ground the practice often goes undiscovered but when it finally did in Bure this past christmas the inevitable happened, the fight started which led to the death of many including innocent soldiers that were caught in the crossfire.Many say the liberal way of thinking by people like Samora such as being gay in TPLF’s military is normal is really affecting the whole military’s structure tremendously.

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