Background Information

Timkat is the Ethiopian Epiphany Day, a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ. Next to Genna or the Ethiopian Christmas, it’s the second most celebrated religious festival in Ethiopia. Even though I’m not a religious person, I’ve timed my trip to coincide with this major festival for a peek into Ethiopia’s spiritual side.

More than half of Ethiopia’s population are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians (a branch of Christianity that is unique to this country). Since the religion was introduced to the country in the 1st century AD, it’s been an important part of the Ethiopian identity. Over 40 million people in Ethiopia visit the church and practise their religious beliefs on a daily basis.

Because of the role that religion plays in Ethiopia, the country’s biggest festivals tend to be related to Christianity. They include Christmas, Easter and Epiphany. During these festivals, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians put on a colourful display of their culture and heritage through traditional costumes, song and dance.

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