Pharaonic New Year celebrated in Minya
River boats - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Under the auspices of the Tourism Ministry, the Ancient Egyptian New Year’s Day, which fell this year on Sep. 11, was celebrated in Minya governorate, Al-Ahram reported Monday.

Thirty river boats decorated with lotus flowers and papyrus plants, symbolizing Lower and Upper Egypt respectively, gathered on the Nile River in front of the governorate building, Al-Ahram reported.

The celebration was attended by an array of government officials, movie stars, politicians and official representatives from Kuwait, Yemen, the UAE and Tunisia, director of the ancient Egyptian New Year’s Day festivities, Hana Makram, told Al-Ahram.

According to the ancient Egyptian calendar, the year was divided into 12 months of 30 days each and each month divided into three 10-day weeks, Ramadan Abdu, head of the Ancient Egyptian History Department at Helwan University’s Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“Since the calendar with 360 days was not accurate enough for the central administration and tax collection system and was also too short to coordinate with the agricultural and lunar calendar, five extra days known as the ‘little month’ were added at the end of the year,” Abdu said.

These five days, also known as El Nasii in Ancient Egyptian or in Coptic the Pi Kogi Enavot, lay between the end of one year and the beginning of the new year: Sept. 6 and Sept. 10 of the Gregorian calendar. They were widely celebrated with religious festivals across Egypt, Abdu added.

“The ancient Egyptian year was divided into three seasons; akhet (inundation) from Sep. 11 – Jan. 8, peret (cultivation) from Jan. 9 – May 8 and shemu (harvest) from May 9 – Sep. 5″ said Abdu who pointed out that, during the Old Kingdom Period (2,680 B.C. – 2,100 B.C.,) the months were not referred to by individual names, but were numbered within the three seasons.

A certain day could be referred to, for example, by writing ‘the fifth day of the third month of the inundation season,’ he added.

“The internal structure of the Coptic calendar, currently used in Egypt and Ethiopia, is derived from the ancient Egyptian’s with names of Coptic months also derived from the ancient Egyptian calendar,” Abdu added.

Thot (11 Sep.-10 Oct) and Hathor (11 Nov. – 9 Dec.) are among the names of Coptic months that have been derived from names of ancient Egyptian Gods; Thot, the Ibis, was Egypt’s god of writing while Hathor, represented as a lady with horned sun-disk was the Egyptian goddess of love that has been identified with Aphrodite in Greek mythology, said Abdu.

Sep. 11 marks the beginning of the year 1731 in the Coptic calendar while it marks the beginning of the year 6256 according to the ancient Egyptian calendar, according to Abdu.

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