Over the past week people gathered in the heart of Addis Abeba at Mesqel Square to celebrate two public events. The streets were full of colour, with goers donning their best cultural or religious outfits. They danced, sang and ate together in festivities that hold great importance to the religious, cultural and even political identities of their followers.

The most recent was Irreecha, a thanksgiving holiday observed mainly in the Oromia Regional State, but has been celebrated vibrantly in the capital as well over the past few years. At least in Addis Abeba, it has become a de facto public holiday where the city is decorated with signs and flags that mark the holiday, and people flock from across the country to Mesqel Square.

The other holiday was Mesqel, which commemorates the finding of the "True Cross" by followers of the Christian Orthodox faith, and from which Mesqel Square gets its name. On the eve of the holiday (Monday), participants gathered on and under the semi-circle the Square is famous for to light candles and observe the lighting of the Demera, a bonfire.

Both Irreecha and Mesqel are celebrated in places outside Mesqel Square. For the latter, Demera is lit in most neighbourhoods with dancing and eating that lasts well into the night, as well as much of the country where there is a Christian population. For Irreecha, it is richly celebrated in Bishoftu, and other parts of the Oromia Regional State.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1170]

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