Timket, The Ethiopian Epiphany is January 20, 2020

Timket is known as the greatest festival of the year in Ethiopia. It is on January 20th this year, just two weeks after Ethiopian Christmas, so everyone is always in a festive mood.

Timket, also known as Epiphany, is a symbolic reenactment of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.  For Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, it serves as a renewal of their baptismal vows.

Timket is a two-day festival, starting the day before, when the church tabot (replica of the Ark of the Covenant) is taken from the church to a nearby location, usually near a body of water.  This is representative of Jesus coming to the River Jordan.  The tabot spends the night in this location while the priests and other faithful hold a vigil through the night.  In the morning the water is blessed and is then sprinkled on the gatherers (or they may chose to bathe in the water), renewing their baptismal vows.  Long parades then carry the tabot back home to the church while the revelers sing and dance. For most Ethiopians, Timket is the only time of year they can get close to the sacred tabots. The procession of the relics of the faith is accompanied by chanting, singing and the beating of drums amidst streets lined with gatherers.

Picture taken January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Gondar is a popular place to witness Timket, as the Bath of Fasilidas provides a stunning backdrop for the festivities.  Lalibela is another popular location, as is Addis Ababa, where it is held at the Jan Meda fairgrounds. Neighborhoods host their own Timket festivities and streets are strewn with palm fronds, drummers, singing choirs, and colorful umbrellas.

An Ethiopian orthodox priest blesses the faithful with incense during Ethiopia’s Timket celebration to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, in Gondar, Ethiopia, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

You can read more about Timket here — – and view some gorgeous images.