T is for True Cross

Around two months ago, I built a fire in the backyard. It was a relatively small fire because we just wanted a few coals to roast marshmallows, not a burning inferno. It was kind of like this one from the Fall:

Preheating the oven for dinner.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


When Weldu came out, he asked me about the fire and why it wasn’t very big. I explained to him why and he seemed to be satisfied with that answer. Then he explained to me that the fire he was expecting was one like the fires they have during Meskel.

By Beevo at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43996793
By Beevo at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43996793

Meskel is the annual celebration of the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Helen, the mother of Constantine, in the 4th Century. According to legend, Helen was on a mission to discover the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. She had a vision in a dream that instructed her to build a fire and it would show her the location of the True Cross. She had the people of Jerusalem build a giant bonfire and she added frankincense to the flames. The smoke went high into the air and then came back down – exactly where the cross was buried.

image via Wikimedia Commons
image via Wikimedia Commons

They celebrate this day in Ethiopia at the end of September. And it makes sense for them to have a giant bonfire in commemoration of this legendary event. Legend also has it that one of the cross-shaped churches in Ethiopia has a piece of this cross buried underneath it. So this day, Meskel – the celebration of the discovery of the True Cross, is a big deal in Ethiopia.

So I can understand why Weldu might have been a little disappointed when he saw our rinky-dink fire in comparison to the giant tower of flames that he’s used to seeing.

Maybe we can fix that the next time we go camping. If that’s the case, I should probably have a few campfire stories to tell. And I have a few, thanks to my experiences at Philmont. I just have to dust them off a little.

Of course, we’ll have to add this holiday to our growing list of family celebrations. But any excuse to build a rockin’ fire is a-OK with me!

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Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

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