Spotlight: Meskel Festival in New Jersey

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival is listed by UNESCO as one the world's "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." (Photo: Flickr)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Members of the Ethiopian community in New York and New Jersey are preparing this month for what is expected to be the largest ever Meskel (Demera) festival in the area.

According to the announcement, the event that is set to take place on Saturday, September 28th at Bisrate Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Newark will mark the first time that all the Ethiopian churches in and around the two states are gathering to celebrate the holiday together.

The day-long colorful festival, which culminates with the lighting of a bonfire (Demera) before sunset commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by Empress Helena (Eleni) in the fourth century. As the BBC noted in its coverage of Meskel celebrations in Ethiopia last year, “It was in Jerusalem, the story goes, that St Helena was advised to light a fire that would show her where to look. The smoke from that fire pointed to the place where the cross was buried. St Helena is then said to have given pieces of the cross to all the churches, and the Ethiopian Church still claims to have its own piece.”

“This historical event is of great interest, not only for the Ethiopian church, but also for all Christians throughout the world,” said Melakegenet Gezahegn Kristos, General Manager of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Archdiocese of New York in a letter announcing the upcoming festival in New Jersey. “Meskel is one of the holiday festivals recorded in UNESCO and has been declared as one of the intangible heritages of humanity.”

The church program begins in the morning at 8am and will continue with Demera (procession of bonfire) in the afternoon at 3pm.


If You Go:
Meskel celebration
Saturday September 28th, 2019
From 8AM to 6PM
Bisrate Gebrieal E.O.T.C
1046 S. Orange Ave
Newark, NJ 07106
For info: 571-310-7645

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