If an old-aged festival is your thing then the Timket festival is the place to be. Originating from the 16th century, Timket is one of the most religious festivals in Ethiopia held on 20th January. Dedicated Pilgrims from all over the world crowd together to watch the re-enactment of Jesus’ baptism and jump into the holy water of the Fasilides Bath. The two-day festival begins with a parade through the city, with Christians gathering around the high priests, each carrying one of the biblical ‘tabots’, which the ten commandments are said to be inscribed on. The festival is joined with lots of singing, dancing and local street parties. The setting of this festival provides even more reason to attend this annual event. Held in Gondar – no, not Lord of the Rings – is where backpackers can see medieval castles in this historical city, which is also known as the ‘Camelot of Africa’.
As with most holidays in Ethiopia, the Meskel is a religious festival held on September, 27th. This one in particular celebrates the ancient story of Empress Helena finding the ‘true cross’ in the fourth century, believed to be the original remains of the cross where Jesus was crucified. The holiday starts with the burning of a huge bonfire, surrounded by crowds of jubilant faith go-ers in Meskel Square, Addis Ababa. Bands, singing, dancing and the army carrying giant crosses, are just a few sights to see at this annual event.
Enkutatash, meaning the gift of jewels, is the celebration of the new calendar year. The Ethiopian’s follow their own calendar, based on the Julian calendar, and are actually seven years behind the UK and celebrate the New Year on September 11th – this year they’ll be seeing in 2007! The New Year beings with a religious service, young girls in their new dresses collecting daisies, and lots of singing and dancing as each house light their own bonfire.