Timket festival Ethiopia
Timket- Celebrations of the Epiphany
This is the biggest festival of the year, on 19 January, just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It lasts for three days, starting the day before Timkat with dramatic and colorful processions. The morning after the big day itself, is commemorated Christ’s baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The third day is dedicated to the feast of St. Michael, the archangel, one of the most popular saints of Ethiopia.
Every effort is made to make this memorable festival. Tella and Tej (Ethiopian mead made from beer) are brewed, special breads are baked, and African sheep fat tails are fattened to be slaughtered (goats, sheep). Gifts are prepared for children and new clothes purchased or old bleached. Read more
Every man, woman and child appear resplendent for this three-day celebration. Dressed dazzling white traditional dress, people offer a dramatic contrast with the bright colors of the ceremony, velvets and satins cassocks of priests and sequined velvet umbrellas.
On the eve of January 18, Ketera, the priests remove the “tabot” of each church and bless the water in the pool of the river, where the celebration will take place the next day. This is the Tabot (symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments) rather than the church building which is consecrated. Not to be desecrated by the gaze of the profane, the slab of stone or wood engraved is concealed under layers of rich fabric.
Priests pray through the long cold night and around 2 am the Ethiopians crowds, eat and boient with flickering lights and torches. Toward dawn, the patriarch quenching a gold cross and extinguishes a candle dedicated to the altar. Then he sprinkles water the congregation in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.
Many enthusiasts jumping fully clothed into the water to renew their vows.
After the baptism, the tabots went to their respective churches while enjoying singing and dancing all the time. Processions continue through town and riders frolic alongside their beautifully decorated frames with red tassels, embroidered bags and money clips. The elders solemnly accompany the singing priests and young men while flapping prayer sticks recalls the ancient rites of the Old Testament.