Ethiopia Celebrated Two Intangible Cultural Heritage Festivals in First Month of its New Year 2012 E.C


Meskel, Gada System and Fiche Chambalala are the three intangible heritages of Ethiopia inscribed by UNESCO.  Meskel and Irrecha are celebrated in the first month of the new year just in weeks one after the other. Last week on 25- 26 September 2019 was Meskel and this week 04-05 October 2019 is Irrecha one of the festivals in the Gada System. UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa supported both celebrations in Addis Ababa.

The Commemoration Feast of The Finding of The True Holy Cross of Christ- Meskel

The festival of Meskel, which is the commemoration feast of the finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ, is celebrated across Ethiopia on the 26th September 2019 (September 17, 2012 EC).


The celebrations begin with the building of the Damera bonfire at Maskel Square in Addis Ababa – a conical pyre of poles surrounded by bundles of branches and torches decorated with green grass.
Maskel is celebrated nationwide regardless of age, gender, language or ethnicity. Participants are believed to receive spiritual rewards from the celebration and blessings from the Holy Cross. The celebration was conducted in Addis Ababa in the presence of hundreds of thousands of people from diverse communities and the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, higher government officials, and diplomatic communities residing in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church priests, deacons, choir and worshipers from different churches presents an elaborated  procession to the Demera place singing about the power of the cross and its findings. 

The celebration culminates after the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church lights the bonfire. Meskel, the commemoration feast of the finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ, was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.

The Oromo Thanks Giving Fesival - Irreechaa

Gada is a traditional system of governance used by the Oromo people in Ethiopia. The system regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community dealing with issues such as conflict resolution, reparation and protecting women’s rights. It serves as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building social cohesion, and expressing forms of community culture.

The Oromo Thanks Giving Fesival – Irreechaa is celebrated on 04-05 October 2019 in Addis Ababa. Irreechaa means a celebration where people get together and perform their prayers and thanks giving to God.

On 3 October 2019, the Irreechaa 2019 Forum under the title “Irreechaa for peace and Unity” is conducted marking the eve of the Oromo thanks giving day 2019. During the Forum, three papers on the essence and relevance of Ireechaa ceremony presented and discussed emphasising the role of Irrecha as an essential ingenious instrument to promote social cohesion, togetherness and socio- cultural and economic transformation in Ethiopia.

The Gada System, which is the social, political and cultural reflection of the traditional Oromo people, was registered in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in October 2016.

UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office was invited to attend a conference on Gada System, which was organized on 3 October 2019 at Sheraton Hotel.  During the conference, the minister of Culture of Ethiopia underlined the importance of Gada to promote national cohesion, inclusion and consolidation of Peace.  The President of ORMIA Region Mr. Shimelis Abdisa launched an appeal for a wide diffusion of this UNESCO’s Cultural Property Worldwide.

The third UNESCO registered intangible heritage -Fichee-Chambalaalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people in Ethiopia around in July.