The Meskel (Feast of the cross) is a very important feast for the Orthodox. It commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by St Helena in the fourth century. Legend is that Saint Helena had a revelation, in a dream in which he was told to fire and that the smoke would show him where the cross was buried. The Meskel ceremony is therefore to create a huge stake, which is called damera, on the largest square in the village. In Asmara, a procession takes place early in the morning from the Orthodox Church Rankin Mariam to Shahbaz Meskerem Square at the end of Harnet Avenue. The priests sing and dance throughout the procession, dressed with colourful and richly decorated dresses. Once faced with the stake, the priests bénissent and put the fire there. When the damera, having completely burned, collapses, the crowd casts on the remaining pieces of coal to sign the front with the cross. Families then continue the party in the intimacy of their home.
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