Zemene Tsigie: In the orthodox tewahdo church, Zemene tsige/tsome tsige meaning The Season of Flower (produce) is a 40 day optional fasting period which begins September 26 and ends November 5 of geez calendar. During this time our church dedicates in fasting (preformed on one's free will), praying and more to remember the hunger, thirst, poverty, sadness and all the trouble St. Mary, the mother of God faced on her journey to Egypt along with St. Joseph and St. Salome. According to the gospel of Matthew 2 the story goes like this--
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? But When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Then Herod, when he called them secretly and sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." However, Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under. However, Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." and he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.
Knowing the trouble the Saint Mary, the Mother of God had during this month, we as orthodox tewahdo believers should have the sense of feeling that Saint Mary had gone through during the journey. At this period, our church- including each of us- specifically ask Saint Mary to intercede between us the sinners and the Holy God. And like our forefathers, we should to have the continuous habit of praying to her and intercede for us reciting:
O virgin, remind Him (Your son) – in your pray- His birth, delivered from you at Bethlehem, of his being wrapped in the swaddling clothes and his being warmed by the breath of ass and a cow on the cold days.
O Virgin, remind Him of his flight with you when you did flee from one country to other in the days of cursed Herod.
O Virgin, remind Him of the hunger, thirsty, poverty, sadness and all the trouble which you did suffer together with Him.
O Virgin, remind Him of mercy and not destruction. Remind Him of compassion and not anger.
O virgin, remind of us - the sinners- and not of the righteous. Remind Him of the impure and not of the pure.
O Mary, we love and exalt you because you did bear for us the true Food of righteousness and the true Drink of Life..
The Eritrean Orthodox tewahdo Church remembers this period as a manifestation of the love we have for St. Mary, Mother of God. The prophet Isaiah said " There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out his root." (Isaiah 11:1) That is why our church's scholars symbolize our Mother St. Mary by the flower and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ by fruit. During this season we commemorate our Virgin May who gave us the true eternal Fruit of life by remembering her suffering, hunger, thirst and hardship during her journey to Egypt. Also during this season a special hymn known as Mahlete Tsige meaning (The Chant of Flowers) and Seqoqawe Dingil (The Lamentation of the Virgin) along with the Hymn of St. Yared (Digua) are sung in the church, usually starting Saturday evening which last until Sunday dawn when Kidase (Holy Mass) begins.
We believe St. Mary is the true intercessor we can relay on, and through which we can obtain from God the strength and grace needed for our live as our forefathers-the apostles did. We believe She is the gate of hope for the needy, the weary, and the sick for her intercession is guaranteed to work through the love of Christ for Her and to us. And till the end of the time, our church and her children will pray to Her asking for forgiveness.
God Bless. May Her intercession and blessings be with us now and forever. Amen.