John baptising Jesus © David Bjorgen
Timkat is arguably the most important date on the Ethiopian calendar. All across the country special masses are held to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Festivities start on the eve of Timkat with colourful costume processions throughout the country. During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, which is a model of the Ark of the Covenant present in every Ethiopian church is wrapped in cloth and carried in procession by the priest. The ceremony is celebrated near a stream or pool early in the morning with the Tabot symbolising the presence of Jesus. After the service the body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants; some worshippers opt to enter the water and submerge themselves to renew their baptismal vows. The festival is always commemorated on the 19 of January. This is a special time in Ethiopia and it is a moving experience to witness or participate in a Timkat ceremony. The local people are very welcoming of foreigners interested in participating.
Venue: Throughout the country
Date: 19 January 2016