The Celebrations of Timket



Epiphany, Timket in Amharic, is one of the grand outdoor religious festivals celebrated among the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on 19 January, 2023 or 20 January once in every four years. The feast commemorates the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Timket was inscribed at UNESCO as an intangible world heritage in December 2019.

The members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church highly revere the festival as a period of religious revival and rejuvenation and also as a thanksgiving occasion to God for his protection and support His creatures.

The festival is marked with great pomp and paraphernalia right from the eve of January 19 which is known among the Ethiopian Orthodox as Ketera.

A tabot—a replica of the actual Arc of the Covenant with the ten commandments of the law as Moses received on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament; and in the New Testament, tabot is inscribed with the names God. Being wrapped with colorful clothes, shaded by umbrella, the tabots (tablets) of each church are carried out in procession to a place near a river in rural areas or where ponds are made available. The faithful are attired with colorful traditional costumes, showcasing Ethiopia’s diversity, ululate joyfully before the tabots.

In Addis Ababa, many tabots from local churches converge in Jan Meda, Special tents are majestically perched on the field for the tabots. Sunday school children sing hymns and priests show special choreographic steps with their special cestrum and Mequamia(sticks), accompanying to the beats of drums.

The next day, early in the morning, ecclesiastics, the faithful and a large crowd go to the water and attend the prayers. Biblical verses pertaining to the baptism are read out loud and people humbly listen to the priest reading from a huge bible specially put together for ceremonial purposes. Bishops and priest dip processional cross in the water to bless the water. Then they sprinkle the water on the people in commemoration of Christ's baptism.

Then, all the tabots are seen off to their respective churches accompanied by huge crowed of believers and Sunday school children. The crowd accompany their respective churches, with singing of priests, sunday school students and various traditional music, dancing expressing their joy.

The faithful celebrate Timket garbed with entirely white traditional outfits. Apart from its religious significance, Timket is an occasion of cultural dating for young men and women who are trying to choose their future life partners. This is done by throwing lemon by young man on the chest of a girl as an indication of his love to her.

On the day of Timket, men, women and children celebrate the occasion in their best cultural attire.

People enjoy the afternoon of Timket by watching the different cultural songs and dances of various ethnic groups.

As one of the most important religious occasion, Timket sets the opportunity for friends and family members to meet and make festivities that fit to the occasion. After two years of war in northern Ethiopia, Christians in Tigray and Amhara will celebrate Timket peacefully with deep joy and happiness following the signing the peace agreement.

Ethiopian News Agency