Timkat, an Ethiopian Epiphany celebration

February 12, 2008

The first week of January marks the time Ethiopians celebrate Timkat, or Epiphany, one of the most important holidays on the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian calendar. While this holiday is celebrated nationwide, the main event takes place at a huge open-air venue in the capital, Addis Ababa.

In 2005, a delegation from the Houston Museum of Natural Science had the privilege of participating in the celebrations. Ethiopia’s Patriarch, His Holiness Abune Paulos, presided over this very colorful event, during which he blessed the assembled masses as well as the tabots, or copies of the Ark of the Covenant, that were brought before him.

After a series of prayers, the Patriarch, accompanied by representatives of other Orthodox churches, dipped processional crosses in a large pool of water. Immediately after, this water is used to bless the gathered masses; the logistics involved are interesting and stand in stark contrast to the pomp and circumstance used in the proceedings up until then. Since the pool is located inside a fenced-off area, the Patriarch simply used a garden hose dipped into the pool to spray the blessed water onto as many people as possible. (See photo at left.)

After a brief pause of mediation and musical performances, the patriarch then proceeded to bless the priests who had gathered carrying their church’s tabots. By the time this takes place, the priests, dressed in very colorful outfits, have been patiently waiting for hours while supporting the tabot on top of their head. Once this blessing has occurred, the ceremony winds down and the thousands of faithful disperse.

Timkat is celebrated by Christians throughout the country. Places like Aksum, the seat of Ethiopia’s Christian community and Lalibela, home to the famous rock-hewn churches, are also bustling with pilgrims during Timkat. The continuation of these century-old celebrations is yet another example of what Ethiopians call “living history.”

Authored By Dirk Van Tuerenhout

As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits. Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

3 responses to “Timkat, an Ethiopian Epiphany celebration”

  1. ruby leslie says:

    i fell sorry for the ethiopians

  2. ruby leslie says:

    my bestfriends name is sameena and the other one is georgia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks Lou The Corpse Flower : Why He Smells So Bad And Why We Should Be Excited When He Blooms Wait Just A Minute! Let’s Take A Second To Talk About the Origin Of Time Keeping. The Krak Des Chevaliers: A Tough Nut To Krak Polar Dinosaurs Are Real And They Are More Adorable Than Elves Gosh that Corpse Looks Delicious: The Disturbing World of the Medieval Apothecary Hurricane Harvey Update
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts

HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629

Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277

Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Tuesday - Saturday By Reservation
Saturdays 3:00PM - 10:00PM
Saturdays (DST) 3:00PM - 11:00PM
DST = Daylight Savings Time.
Please call for holiday hours. Entry to Brazos Bend State Park ends at 9:30 p.m. daily
Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.