Timkat (Epiphany)

Timkat (Epiphany) is a day that celebrates Christ’s baptism every year on January 19th. This three-day festival is one of the most colorful of the year. On the afternoon of the eve of Timkat, the Tabot (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) are taken to a body of water and devotees of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and priests gather to participate in a vigil around the Tabot at night. The following morning, January 19th, followers gather around the blessed body of water and are splashed with the holly water or swim in it depending on where they are. Then the Tabot is paraded around with thousands of singing followers behind it back to the church. The Ark of the Covenant being Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church followers holiest relic is not allowed to touch the ground. Gondar is the best place to experience this festival. King Fassil’s swimming pool which was built in the 17th century and is still a holy site, is used to baptize followers. Witnessing Timkat in Gondar gives you insight into the religion of the world’s second oldest Christian country. The see of white traditional clothing and colorful umbrellas are a testament of the deep history of Christianity in Ethiopia besides being an awe-inspiring site. Timkat is celebrated colorfully in the capital, Addis Ababa as well.

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