Greetings in the name of His & Her Imperial Majesties Qedamawi Haile Sellassie I & Itege Menen Asfaw,
Ras Tafari Renaissance Revelations is here wishing you all a VERY HAPPY ETHIOPIAN EPIPHANY/MESQEL!!!
This celebration is attributed to the Ethiopian account of the “Finding of the True Cross.” The celebration of MesQel is observed on the 17th day of the Ethiopian month of Meskerem.
Ras Tafari Renaissance is as always thankful and appreciative of the responses from those who continue to check out this work here and send their opinions, and commentary. But, for this posting we turn our attention to the Ethiopic-Christian celebration of MesQel, which literally means the “Cross.” This celebration is supposedly Byzantine in origin, but we shall dive deeper into the message, meanings, and historical references of the significance of this celebration.
Portrait of Manuel II Palaiologos with his wife Helena (St. Ipomoni) and three of his sons.
Helena is recorded in history also for supposedly taking a pilgrimage to Syria Palæstina during the 1st century of Christianity. So, from RRR‘s opinion; if Helena had indeed made a pilgrimage or some sort to this particular part of the world during this time, then surely she very well could have been influenced by the original Judeo-Christian/Hebraic Christian principles and moreso the originators of that school of thought.
[ie. communities taught by Paul of Tarsus, Peter (Disciple of Christ), James (Brother of Christ) etc.]
The Finding of the True Cross, commemorates the discovery of the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The original event took place on March 19, 326AD; but there is a feast is now celebrated on 27 September. (annually)
The legend in Ethiopia, speaks of Queen Eleni (also congruently meaning “Helen or Helena”) finding the cross by a revelation with the use of a bonfire, in the 4th century AD, (about the time Ethiopia, officially became the first Christian nation). [other legends have it accounted for with Queen Helena of Constantinople) The fire that was lit would lead to the Cross, so the Queen ordered the people of Jerusalem to bring wood for a large pile. In Ethiopia, the custom of the bonfire, once completed the ashes from the bonfire are used for the Passion Week’s Ash Wednesday.
In Ethiopia, where the commemoration has the largest following and effect, in modern society many of the rites observed throughout the festival are said to be directly connected to the legend of Empress Helena. On the eve of Maskel(or MesQel) tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called meskel flowers, are placed at the top. During the night these branches are gathered together in front of the compound gates and ignited. This symbolises the actions of the Empress whom, when no one would show her the Holy Sepulchre, she lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted she dug and found three crosses.
The Chapel of Saint Helena atop the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem _ Ethiopian Church in the Holy City. Israel)
To one of them, the True Cross, many miracles were attributed. Edward Ullendorff records a number of beliefs of the meaning of Demera, with some believing that it “marks the ultimate act in the cancellation of sins, while others hold that the direction of the smoke and the final collapse of the heap indicate the course of future events — just as the cloud of smoke the Lord over the Tabernacle offered guidance to the children of Israel
During the celebration, there is singing, chanting, and many beautiful colors all around. MesQel is always to take place after the Ethiopian New Year, a seasonal holiday after the rains, for the coming of the Sun. The celebration of MesQel, is also known as the Exaltation of the True Cross.