Happy Meskel 2013!
Meskel is an Ethiopian holiday that celebrates the finding of the "True Cross" by Saint Helen thousands of years ago. We've kind of adopted it (ha ha) as our Ethiopian Fall holiday since I always miss Ethiopian New Year (which is on 9/11) in the hectic back-to-school craziness. And also because on September 11 we New Yorkers don't usually feel too celebratory.
In Ethiopia Meskel is celebrated by lighting bonfires. As the story goes, Saint Helen had a dream in which she learned that the cross upon which Jesus was crucified would be revealed to her in smoke. The next morning she lit a huge bonfire, and sure enough, the smoke trail led her to the spot where the cross was buried. There is a lovely story about this year's celebration in Addis Ababa, with a bit of Ethiopian history included HERE.
Last year for Meskel we had a little fire on our roof. This year I looked up the date just in time, and we had a lovely time celebrating in a little backyard.
We light a fire in our barbecue. The kids had fun hunting up sticks to add to the coals. We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. The adults had some wine, the kids ate up lots of sugar. We watched the fire burn and the sun set. I told them a "Unitarian Universalized-ed*" version of the story of Meskel. (see below)
Like all holidays (is it just my family?) this one ended with tears and drama. There may have been some storming off and some yelling. But I don't have photos of that part. So I'll just hold on to this:
|pile on Daddy! don't drop the wine!|
|waiting for the fire to catch|
* Our family are Unitarians. Huh? Go here.
The Story of Meskel (adapted)
Many many years ago, a wise and powerful woman named Helen was searching for something very important to her, something that she believed would bring health, unity and inspiration to her people. She was looking for the wooden cross upon which Jesus, the great teacher and rabbi, had died. One night she dreamt that if she lit a big fire the smoke would show her where the cross was. So the next day, she had her servants light a bonfire. And sure enough, the smoke made a trail that led her to where the cross was buried. Her people rejoiced and shared pieces of the cross far and wide. Those ancient pieces of wood still inspire and bring hope to people all over the world.
Every year in Ethiopia people light bonfires to celebrate Meskel (which means Cross). Families gather around the fires, coming together in hope and celebration. Perhaps if we look into the smoke, we will find something we are searching for. Perhaps we will find something to inspire us...