Egyptian New Year

I have had a lot of questions about what is the difference between the Ancient Egyptian New Year, The Modern Egyptian New Year and the Coptic Egyptian New year. I hope to clear up any confusion as well educate people on these sacred holidays The main Ancient Egyptian New Year event was the Feast of Opet, which took place in the first month of the year.This was the best time to hold the festival as the Nile was flooded and people were unable to work as a result of this, so they were free to take part in the celebrations.

The Feast was held in honor of Amon and marked the god’s annual journey down the Nile from Karnak to Luxor, where he stayed for twenty-four days before returning to the main temple. There is a procession where the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt then the god Amon, his wife and his son are carried to the quayside by attendants in panther-skins and led by a temple priest, a trumpeter and a drummer.

Each god is placed in a makeshift temple. These are then dragged out into the mainstream of the river, here they are joined by small boats which accompany them to Luxor. When they arrive at Luxor they are presented with offerings of food and drink.This feasting goes on throughout the whole of the festival. They are then returned to the temple of Karnak and the year’s normal activities can begin.

The Modern Ancient Egyptian New Year is a public holiday and has a very festive atmosphere. Although they know in advance when the New Year begins they still observe the custom of the new crescent moon must be seen before the official announcement is made. The sighting is carried out at the Muhammad Ali mosque which is at the top of the hill in Cairo. The message is then passed on to the religious leader known as the Grand Mufti and he proclaims the New Year.

The men who have been waiting outside the mosque wish each other a happy New Year by saying “Kol Sana We Enta Tayeb!” and then go home to tell their families. Then all families sit down for a special New Year dinner. On this day even the poorest of family serves some meat. No alcohol is served because Muslims do not drink. On this day everyone dresses up in special clothes even the girls are allowed to wear bright colored dresses. Usually they are only allowed to wear black.

The children are given sweets. Boys are given a sweet molded into the shape of a boy on horseback. Girls are given one in the shape of a girl wearing a dress. The sweets are surrounded by colored paper shaped like an accordion. The New Year for the adults is a day for visiting friends. In some villages the father or the head of the family goes from house to house wishing each family a happy New Year collecting people as they go, until they end up at the Mayor’s house.

The Coptic Egyptian New Year is based on the reappearance of Sirius, the Dog Star in the skies over Egypt. Copts observe the New Year with memorials to Coptic martyrs. Altar dressings and officials of the temple wear their’ vestments in bright red on this day, to represent the martyrs’ spilled blood. Also it is customary to eat red dates. Blessings:-)

Rev. Bella Isis Shay