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Timket explained

Fikreselassie Admassu explains Ethiopia's biggest annual festival



MD of FK Explorer
Published on

29 Jan 2018

Updated on

29 Jan 2021

Timkat Festival Fikre

Timket festival has been celebrated in Ethiopia for hundreds of years after the countries conversion to Christianity.

The Ethiopian Term 'Timkat' (also spelled 'Timket') refers to the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in The River Jordan by John the Baptist.

It begins with the "Ketera" (the eve of Timket) which is held to commemorate the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. Replicas of the Ark of the Covenant from are taken from churches by crowds of colourfully- dressed Christians. There is lots of singing and ululation as they make their way to to a nearby river or a structure with water. The priests and the deacons of the churches - along with the devotees - spend the night praying, singing religious songs and dancing. Very early in the morning, a prayer will be made at the pool or on the river. Afterwards, the water will be blessed or sanctified. Once this has been done, the senior priest of the church, or of the group of churches, will start sprinkling sanctified water onto the congregation. Usually, people will jump into the pool or river to participate in the blessing.

A few hours later, the ceremony will continue with religious music and a fascinating dance by the priests. The Ark replicas will then be carried back to the respective churches where they are housed.
These ceremonies offer a great chance for tourists to witness the festivities during which the replicas of the Ark of the Covenant are accompanied back to their respective churches.

Apart from its religious value, the Timkat ceremony also has cultural significance in that it brings participants together - everyone tried their best to make the festivals as wonderful as they possibly can, preparing food and drinks to share with family, neighbours, friends and others. Please note that all the money spent on preparations is for enjoyment only; invitations are free and not for sale.
People attending or participating in Timkat will wear their very best outfits on the day. There is an Amharic saying, "if it is not good for Timkat, let it never be good for anything".
Timkat is also considered significant when it comes to choosing ones lover, especially in rural Ethiopia, where it is believe to be one of the best seasons in which to propose for the girl you love. The way a young man proposes then is quite unusual. He will buy a lemon or as we call it "Lomi" and throw it onto the chosen girl. She then responds collecting the Lemon.

Timket Tour

Tigray In Ethiopia

Join our small group tour and celebrate the spectacular Timket Festival and then travel the famed 'Historical Route'.

Trip Highlights

Timket Festival - Gondar Castles - Simien Mountains - Lailbela rock churches - Axum

See full tour.

Wondering when to visit? Take a look at best time to visit Ethiopia.

Looking for some more inspiration? Take a look at our best safari holidays ideas, our favourite family safaris, our big five safari guide or our top African safari honeymoon suggestions.

Speak To Our Ethiopia Specialist Today

  • Ali


    Africa Specialist

  • Ben


    Africa Specialist

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