Egyptian Spring Sham El Nissem Celebrations

Sham El Nissem is an old Egyptian custom celebrating the beginning of Spring. It is recorded to have began as far back as around 2700 BC, before religion and as part of the old dynasty. It does not have any connection to a religious tradition however is celebrated now annually on the day after Easter, Easter Monday. It originally began as a celebration of the spring equinox where offerings were given to the gods, but as Egypt came under Roman Empire rule it became a part of the Easter celebrations and has since stayed on that date.

The name translates in ancient Egyptian to 'garden meadows' and Coptic Christian to 'inhaling the breeze'. Everything to do with new beginnings, renewal and fertility are celebrated at this time. A festival as old as the country which now unites it's people, across religion and race, to come together and celebrate the coming of spring.

This celebration is enjoyed by all outdoors. Picnics are a common activity between friends and families taking place in any available nature whereby enjoying parks, gardens and beaches. Great arrays of food and drinks are consumed while children play games in the warmer weather. An old tradition, somewhat replaced today is to consume a fish on this day, fiseekh, which is a mullet that has been left out to putrefy, has salt added to it and is then left to pickle for longer. Other frivolities such as dancing, singing and theater performances are enjoyed.

As with a lot of cultures the use of eggs as a symbol of new life is maintained still today as part of this festival. Commonly the eggs are boiled and painted. Some will string some together to hang in the home, even write wishes upon them to bring good luck.

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