Epiphany (Timket)

Timket, feast of Epiphany is the greatest festival of the year falling on the 19 January
just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair beginning
on the eve of Timket with dramatic and colourful processions. The following morning
the great day itself, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is
commemorated.
Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily. The
sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the Festival of Timkat always take place in
glorious weather.
Enormous effort is put into the occasion. Tej and tella (Ethiopian mead and beer) are
brewed, special bread is baked, and the fat-tailed African sheep are fattened for
slaughter. Gifts are prepared for the children and new clothes purchased or old mended
and laundered.
Everyone men, women, and children appears resplendent for the three-day celebration.
Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic
contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests’ robes and
sequined velvet umbrellas.

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