My week in Gondar began with Meskal – Friday 27th September. Meskal means cross and everyone sets up bonfires with crosses on top – at the street corners, in front of their houses, in any available corner – and lights them at dawn. The big celebration was in the town square, and I found myself included in the bishop’s party. This meant we were there at 9 am. The excitement built up slowly – with three hours of church singing, speeches and drama – but this made the moment of lighting the bonfire all the more dramatic when finally the fire started and we waited to see where the cross on top would fall. festival celebrates the empress Helena going to Jerusalem about 330 AD to look for the cross of Christ. A hermit advised her to light a fire and wherever the smoke went there the cross would be found – and there she dug and it was. It struck me what a political celebration it is. There were government ministers as well as the church – and the burning fire states clearly that when we find the cross then we find the true basis of the the state.
Yonas Tesfahun on Islam