January 19 (January 20 in Leap Years)
If you’ve just had an epiphany, you’re not alone.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Epiphany on January 19. (January 20 in Leap Year.) It’s called Timkat, or Timket.
In parts of Europe and the Americas Epiphany is also known as Three Kings Day, (though no number or rank is specified in the Bible) and celebrates the visit of the Magi who bestow gifts on the baby Jesus.
In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches however, the day commemorates Jesus’s baptism by St. John in the River Jordan.
As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” — Mark 1:10
Traditionally Christians celebrate the event twelve to fourteen days after Christmas. (Once Epiphany was the twelfth day of Christmas.) In the Ethiopian Calendar Christmas falls on December 28, or January 7 Gregorian.
Timkat/Epiphany falls on January 11th in the Ethiopian Calendar, or January 19th Gregorian.
The night before, priests take the Tabot (which symbolizes the Ark of the Covenant) containing the Ten Commandments from each Church. Concealed by an ornamental cloth, it is taken to a tent, close to a consecrated pool or stream, accompanied by much ringing of bells, blowing of trumpets and the burning of incense. — http://www.selamta.net/Festivals.htm
In Timket, Tella and Tej are brewed, special bread is baked called “Himbash” (in Tigrigna) “Ambasha” (in Amharic), and sheep are slaughtered to mark the three-day celebration. — www.ethiopiantreasures.toucansurf.com
While most African churches south of Egypt date only to the colonial era, Hebraic traditions and Semitic language were practiced by some Ethiopian tribes before the birth of Christ.
In fact, the Ethiopian Cathedral of Our Lady Mary of Zion, claims to hold the original Ark of the Covenant, said to have been brought to Ethiopia by Minelik, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, around the 9th century B.C.
The Ark’s authenticity has been impossible to verify, as only one person has access to the Ark at a time: a sacred guardian, chosen for a lifetime term by the previous guardian.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has the most extended Biblical Canon of any major church, numbering 81 sacred books. Among those writings not included by Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic churches are the books of Enoch, Esdras, and Jubilee.
peace-on-earth.org – photos/celebration of Timket
Timket 2008: Epiphany & Stardom – a Peace Corps blog