It’s well known that the week before Sham El Nesseim marks special feasts for Christian Egyptians , so here we’d like to bring to your knowledge the origin of this whole week of celebrations. Let’s start on!
Palm Sunday: It is a Christian moveable feast which always falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates an event reported by all four Canonical Gospels which is the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion. In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves (often tied into crosses) to the assembled worshipers.
Maundy Thursday: The Thursday of the Holy Week is associated with the Last Supper. The day is known as Maundy Thursday, or, Holy Thursday. It is the day before crucifixion. On this day, Jesus had his supper, his last course, with his disciples. Jesus took bread, blessed, and broke it, then gave it to the disciples saying “Do this in remembrance of me”. This Last Supper has been the subject of many paintings, perhaps the most famous by Leonardo da Vinci.
Good Friday: The Friday of the week is the Good Friday. This is the day on which Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the top of the Calvary hill. Christians believe that God’s love to humans made him send the Christ to be crucified to pay for people’s sins in order to save them from its inevitable price; which is death in hell, and that no one could have paid such price except Jesus because he is sinless. Easter-Eve Saturday: The day following Good Friday is the Holy Saturday. This is usually called Easter Eve in Anglican churches, and is held as a traditional time for baptism services. Presently, this day is primarily a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, as well as Anglican observance. Roman Catholic churches observe this with the blessing and lighting of a tall Paschal candle. The candle is placed on the altar on the Holy Saturday. While blessing, five grains of incense are fixed in it, representing the five wounds of Jesus and the burial spices with which his body was anointed. The candle is lit and remains on the Gospel side of the altar until Ascension Day where Christ is believed to have ascended to the heaven. Easter Sunday: Easter Sunday is the day of the feast and Bunny. This day, the third since crucifixion, the Christ is believed – by Christians – to have shown up himself and joined his disciples on a meal! Easter comes at the end of the six days of the Holy Week which came to be associated with the life of Jesus before the Resurrection. As to the Easter bunny, it is a mythological rabbit which brings eggs and candy to children on the Easter holiday. The Easter bunny possibly has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season Sham el-Nessim Monday: And last but not least comes the Egyptian holiday which can be traced back to 2700 B.C.; Sham el-Nessim. The public holiday occurs annually on Monday, the day after the Coptic Easter Sunday. According to the Egyptian State Information Service, the name of the holiday is actually derived from the ancient Egyptian harvest season that was called “Shamo”, which means a day of creation . According to Plutarch‘s annals, the ancient Egyptians used to offer salted fish, lettuce and onions to their deities on this day. Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Bakr, former chairman of the Antiquities Authority, explains that: The spring festival coincided with the vernal equinox, and the ancients imagined that that day represented the beginning of creation. The date of Sham El Nessim was not fixed. Rather, it was announced every year on the night before the feast at the foot of the Great Pyramid. The feast of ‘Shamo’ means ‘renewal of life’, which was later corrupted during the Coptic age to ‘sham’ (smelling or breathing) and the word ‘nessim’ (breeze) was added. The ancient Egyptians first celebrated the feast of Shamo in 2700 BC, towards the end of the 3rd Dynasty“.
Sham el-Nessim is also celebrated by eating traditional foods. It is associated with several types of food that are eaten together yet are much diversified. Fiseekh (Salted fish), boiled colored eggs, lettuce, and green onions are some of the types of food eaten on this day, each backed by a different myth. Salted fish symbolized to the ancient Egyptians fertility and welfare. The egg was a symbol of rebirth. Lettuce represents the feeling of the hopefulness at the beginning of the spring. Green onions also seem to have a special significance in the occasion. It has been found that in ancient times, onions were stuffed in the eyes of mummies and drawn on tomb walls.
And Now that you knew the origin of each day of this festival week, Happy Easter & Happy Sham el- Nessim .