Gondar, one of the ancient capitals of the country and home to an amazing group of castles, it’s currently the second main city in the Amhara region, and a place of especially fervent faith where all the main festivities are celebrated with great participation and colourful choreographies.
Timket is celebrated in almost every corner of Ethiopia, but Gondar is the only place where a monument is fully devoted to it: the Bath of Fasilidas was purposely built to host the Epiphany celebration, and, with its amazing architecture enriched by old and snakelike rooted trees growing over the surrounding walls, is a fairy-tale scene for this evocative ceremony. Colourful processions coming from each church of the city take place in the eve, then masses and prayers are performed all night long, but it’s just after the priest’s blessing of the water that the believers simultaneously jump into the pool for a joyful and cathartic bath.
The Meskel celebration has been declared an intangible heritage by Unesco, and is widely celebrated all across Ethiopia. There are several interesting characteristics of this colourful celebration that is both linked to the Orthodox church and to the end of the rainy season. A big bonfire is the central moment of the feast, and Gondar is one of the few places where it takes place in the morning, in the centre of the city among joyful dances and songs.
Crosses in Ethiopia are one of the outstanding samples of local art and handicraft: they are very rich in decoration and symbolism, the figure of the body of Jesus is absent while gorgeous and complex geometrical decorations characterize different styles normally linked to the main cities of Ethiopia: Axum, Lalibela and Gondar. But the main secret enclosed in the Ethiopian cross symbolism is about the intertwined nature of Christ, that is one of main characteristics of the Ethiopian church.