Religion plays an important part of life in Ethiopia. The Orthodox Tewahedo Church ceremonies are unique and impressive; especially Timket (Epiphany) and Ledet (Christmas) festivals which provide colourful ceremonies and celebrations. People dress in traditional costume and celebrate festivals across the country with colourful unique ceremonies.
Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Festivals in Ethiopia
The major captivating Christian festivals and events in this category include Timket (Epiphany) in January, Ledet (Christmas) December and Hidar Tsion in November.
Timket (Epiphany) in January
Timket is Ethiopian language for Epiphany. The holiday commemorating Christ's baptism in the River Jordan is of special significance in Ethiopia. It is the most important and colorful event of the year. Timket is celebrated in Ethiopia on January 19 beginning on the Eve of Timket with colourful processions and ceremonies ending on the January 20.
Although the festival is largely religious, it has no lack of secular elements such as partying and match-making.
In Timket, Tella and Tej are brewed, special bread is baked, and sheep are slaughtered to mark the three-day celebration.
Best place to witness this festival: Gonder, Lalibela and Addis Ababa
Ledet (Ethiopian Christmas) December
Ledet (Christmas) falls on December 29 Ethiopian calendar (January 7 Gregorian calendar). Ledet (Christmas) is celebrated after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent), with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 AM and lasts until 9 AM. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with injera and the traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej).
Best place to witness this festival: Lalibela
Hidar Tsion in November
The Virgin Mary is one of the most venerated of all religious figures in Ethiopia.
About 33 days are annually dedicated to different celebrations in the commemoration of Mary. "Hidar Tsion" is associated with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in Axum and the belief that the Ark itself is a symbolism to her womb.
This festival is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia, making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the "sacred city of the Ethiopians."
Best place to witness this festival: Axum
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