Epiphany

History

Timkat (Amharic: ጥምቀት) is the Orthodox Tewahedo celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January 19th (or 20th in a leap year), corresponding to the 11th day of Terr in the Ethiopian calendar.

Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism (similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan).

During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, which is present on every Ethiopian altar (somewhat like the Western altar stone), is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and borne in procession on the head of the priest.

The Tabot, which is otherwise rarely seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated near a stream or pool early in the morning (around 2 a.m.).

Then the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. But the festival does not end there.

Observance

By noon on Timqat Day a large crowd has assembled at the ritual site, those who went home for a little sleep having returned, and the Holy Ark is escorted back to its church in colorful procession and festivities.

The clergy, bearing robes and umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs; the elders march solemnly with their weapons, attended by middle-ages men singing a long-drawn, low-pitched haaa hooo; and the children run about with sticks and games.

Dressed up in their finest, the women chatter excitedly on their one real day of freedom in the year. The young braves leap up and down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs.

This celebration is also registered in UNESCO as an intangible heritage. When the Holy Ark has been safely restored to its dwelling-place, everyone goes home for feasting.

Note

UNESCO inscribed Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany) in 2019 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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Please note

Baregota Tour and Travel’s tours cover the whole of the country. Being a small company, customized tours can be arranged to suit the interests and time available to each client. Also this tour can be varied or combined to fit your requirements.

Addis Ababa options

For this and our other tours, we offer a 1 – 2 day stopover in Addis Ababa, where there are many amazing sights to see.  

If you come in on a long haul overnight flight, this will give you time to recover from your jetlag before heading off on your selected tour.

Please refer to our optional tour of Addis Ababa for details. You can choose whether to spend one or two days in Addis, and also which places you would like to visit. This tour could also be added onto the end of another tour.