Meskel which means “cross”, is one of the major Ethiopian orthodox festivals which is celebrated on 27th September. Legend says that the cross upon which Christ was crucified in the year 326 by Queen Helena, mother of the first Roman Christian Emperor Constantine the Great. Unable to find the holy artifact, she set up long poles and set them on fire. Skyward raised the smoke and down it bent, touching the spot on the earth where the original cross was found buried.
The celebration of Meskel assures the presence of the True Cross at mount Gishen Mariam monastery and also commemorates the events carried out by Queen Helena.
Ethiopian Christmas, also called Genna celebrates on 7th January (8th January on leap year) to express the coming of the Lord to free mankind of its sins. It is celebrated seriously by the church service that goes on throughout the night, with people moving from one church to another.
Traditionally young men plays a game similar to hockey, called Genna, on this day, and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name.
Epiphany locally known as Timket is one of the most colorful holidays of Ethiopia. Timket is celebrated to honor of the day of Christ´s Baptism by St. Johns. On the on the 18th of January all Tabots (the replica of the Ark of the Covenant) are taken to pre arranged open areas where they would pass the night there. On the morrow, the same Tabots, would return back to their original destination. The entire two way journey is incredibly graceful and colorful. Throughout, the respective Tabots are accompanied by tens of thousands of merry followers singing religious songs, hymens, and ululations, splendid and unique ceremony of Ethiopians. The unadulterated biblical atmosphere and vivid local color of the Timket celebrations provided an ideal opportunity to observe the sacred ceremony of Ethiopians who magnificently interested the New Testament with the old whose root goes back to man´s very early years.
Ethiopian Easter follows as a similar pattern as in other countries, although the celebrations almost always fall on a different set of dates. Siklet (Good Friday) commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and devout believers spend it performing sigdet, which means to bow down in worship of God. The Saturday evening before Fasika celebrates Jesus resurrection from the dead, and the day of Fasika itself is the culmination of Lent – a 55 days fast from dairy and meat