Timkat (Amharic for ‘baptism’) is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany and one of most important religious festivals in the country. During three days in mid-January believers celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
By Borja Santos, Addis Ababa
During Ketara, the first day of celebration, there are processions with tabots, replicas of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed. According to the legend the original tablets are kept in Axum, in northern Ethiopia.
Christian, Jewish and Ethiopian
The next day, at dawn, the Ethiopian Patriarch Abuna Paulus blesses the holy water with his cross and together with his priests he blesses the crowd. The third day is dedicated to the feast of St Michael, the Archangel, one of the most popular saints in Ethiopia.
Timkat represents many aspects of the typical Ethiopian mixture of Christian, Jewish and Ethiopian traditions. Also, it is an opportunity for Ethiopians of any social class and age to share a great day.