In Addis Ababa, celebrations start in the early afternoon when a procession bearing flaming torches approaches Meskal Square from various directions. Participants include Priests in brightly colored vestments, students, brass bands, contingents of the armed forces and floats carrying huge lit crosses. They circle the “demera” and fling torches upon it while singing a special Meskal song.
Thousands gather at the Square to bid farewell to the rains and welcome in “Tseday” the spring season with its profuse “Meskal” daisies and golden sunshine. As evening darkens, the flames glow brighter. It is not until dawn that the burning pyramid consumes itself entirely and the big tree at the center finally falls. During the celebrations, houses are stocked with “tella” the local beer, and strangers are made welcome.
Timket is the greatest festival of the Ethiopian year, falling just 2 weeks after Ethiopian Christmas.
It is actually a 3-day affair preceded by the eve of Timket when the dramatic processions take place through a night of fasting, to the great day itself and the commemoration of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River.
Ketera, the Eve of Timket is when the Priests bring out the Tabots – replicas of the 2 tablets of laws received by Moses, which are normally housed inside the altar symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant.
Priests bless the water of the pool or river where the next day’s celebration will take place. It is the Tabot, rather than the church building which is consecrated and given extreme reverence. Visitors have the unique chance to experience a festival lost to the rest of the world.
Genna is Ethiopian Christmas, and coincides with other Orthodox Christmas celebrations around the world. The feast marks the end of the 40-day fasting period of Advent. On Christmas Eve, the faithful participate in church services through the night before celebrating with family and friends on Christmas day.
Lalibela is the most popular place to celebrate Genna, as thousands of pilgrims flock to the holy city for this celebration.