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Egyptian christmas?
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Silaku Nasuwt
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 3:58 pm    Post subject: Egyptian christmas? Reply with quote

Just wondering if there was some kind of Egyptian festival around the time of christmas? like the pagans have yule and jews have hanukkah so I was wondering if the egyptians had something too Idea

And are there any christmas traditions that originate from egypt? as I think the romans copied customs and traditions from everywhere they conquered, such as Egypt, and put them into what has become our modern festivals.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every year the Egyptians made an offering of bread, beer, pudding, brandy and mince pies to the altar of ImHoHoHotep, a deified mummy who drove his chariot pulled by red-nosed jackals across the sky delivering prezzies to good children everywhere and flesh eating scarabs to the naughty kids...I kid, I kid Laughing on a more serious note, I'm pretty sure I remember seeing something that said that the Egyptians celebrated a winter festival of some sort, possibly even a winter solstice festival. I'm sure it had a name too but I can't remember it. I'm not sure if it was a major festival though, compared with the new year festival and Opet etc. Though I recently remember seeing something on a site (a reputable one, I think) relating to excavation of an Egyptian town and in the section about how the townspeople worshipped, there was a quote from a Greek historian, I think it was Plutarch, who said that their festival for the birth of Horus by Isis took place around the winter solstice.

Another thing that I was thinking about was that maybe some festivals could be regional? And also, some festivals could gain popularity more in certain periods of history? Maybe one of the winter festivals I read about was popular in a certain part of Egypt (maybe one linked with a certain god) during, say, the New Kingdom, whilst it wasn't so well known in other parts of Egypt. I could be totally wrong but it's just a thought that occured to me.

The Copts celebrate Christmas, though their date for it falls on January 6 (like the rest of orthodox Christianity). I have no idea what traditions they have for their Christmas, and I'm not sure if they have any ancient customs incorporated into it.
I don't know if any Egyptian traditions have survived in our modern Western Xmas traditions though. Most of our most familiar traditions seem to come from European midwinter festivals (where the winter solstice would have been a lot more noticeable, it gets a lot darker and colder during winter than it does in Egypt) such as Roman Saturnalia and Northern European Yule, among others.

But don't forget to make a little offering to ImHoHoHotep, or you'll get cursed by him! He just doesn't do lumps of coal, you know...

(sorry, this post was longer than expected!)
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm wondering if the Christmas tree originated in Egypt.

It's a little bit of a stretch since it just seems right to use an evergreen in the winter to brighten things up a little.

Horus was said to have been born on Dec 25 and the pagans of northern Europe used trees at Christmas time. If the djed really was a hollowed tree inverted over the Eye of Horus it might explain why the original trees used by the pagans were inverted and hung from the cieling.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With likely origins in European pre-Christian cultures,[1] the Christmas tree has gained an extensive history and become a common sight during the winter season in various countries.
Illustration of Yggdrasil from the Ockelbo Runestone, Sweden.
Illustration of Yggdrasil from the Ockelbo Runestone, Sweden.

Patron trees (for example, the Irminsul, Thor's Oak and the figurative Yggdrasil) held special significance for the ancient Germanic tribes, appearing throughout historic accounts as sacred symbols and objects. According to Adam of Bremen, in Scandinavia the Germanic pagan kings sacrificed nine males (the number nine is a significant number in Norse mythology) of each species at the sacred groves every ninth year.[2]

Tradition credits Saint Boniface with the invention of the Christmas tree. The Oak of Thor at Geismar was chopped down by Boniface in a stage-managed confrontation with the old gods and local heathen tribes. A fir tree growing in the roots of the Oak was claimed by Boniface as a new symbol. "This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre of your households. Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light. Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your Comfort and Guide."[3][4]

The fir trees were at first held upside down from the ceiling. Martin Luther is credited with adding lights to the tree and placing it upright as we now normally see them.[5]

This is unlikely however, while references to decorated trees begin to appear sporadically in the 16th century (Riga Latvia in 1510, Straosburg church in 1539, and as a Straosburg tradition by 1605) there are no reports of LIGHTED trees until nearly a century after Martin Luther's death. Additionally, portended connections between Luther and the Christmas tree do not appear until later yet.[6]

Other notable traditions in relation to Christmas have also been derived from Germanic pagan practices, including the Yule log, Christmas ham, Yule Goat, stuffing stockings,[7] elements of Santa Claus and his nocturnal ride through the sky, and surviving elements of Pre-Christian Alpine traditions.
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Silaku Nasuwt
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm wondering if the Christmas tree originated in Egypt.


I heard somewhere that it originated with Egyptians bring palm leaves into their homes in the winter.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of ancient cultures celebrated some sort of festival on winter's solstice or at other points in wintertime, but I really can't think of a single ancient Egyptian tradition that definitely relates to Christmas.

The post provided by Osiris II pretty well sums it up: Christmas as we know it is mostly drawn from German, Dutch, and Scandinavian traditions. It's placement in late December is nothing more than the Romans having co-opted the date for the celebration of the Persian god, Mithros, that was so popular to many pagan Romans. This was a ploy to help make Christianity more acceptable as the new religion of the empire.

Christmas in both its religious and secular aspects is nothing more than a blend of primarily pagan European traditions.

Still, it's fun to get those presents...as long as ImHoHoHotep doesn't snatch them first. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Lots of ancient cultures celebrated some sort of festival on winter's solstice or at other points in wintertime, but I really can't think of a single ancient Egyptian tradition that definitely relates to Christmas.

The post provided by Osiris II pretty well sums it up: Christmas as we know it is mostly drawn from German, Dutch, and Scandinavian traditions. It's placement in late December is nothing more than the Romans having co-opted the date for the celebration of the Persian god, Mithros, that was so popular to many pagan Romans. This was a ploy to help make Christianity more acceptable as the new religion of the empire.

Christmas in both its religious and secular aspects is nothing more than a blend of primarily pagan European traditions.


yes and it is exactly things like this which make me unable to continue on as a christian.... seems lots of things are "borrowed" or hastily throne together some 400 years after Jesus died (and the only reason I believe this is because there is evidence that pilot killed him on a cross, which could have been for any number of things but likely for posing some sort of threat to rome). I also don't believe he ever claimed to be the son of God in any special way or that he wanted people to follow him blindly and begging forgiveness for some evil sin, but that he wanted people to learn knowledge of self. what started out as something like a movement among the poor, the dissatisfied, the intellectual that was threatening to the status quo somehow (somewhere in Rome?) morphed into the perfect tool for keeping the status quo and making sure people accepted their crappy dark age lives and "sought reward in heaven" rather than getting mad at their kings (and cardinals) and making THIS world better.

If one part of a thing is bogus, which part should I believe????
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was raised Roman Catholic but haven't practiced the religion my entire adult life...except for Christmas mass, to appease my mom. It has nothing to do with the development of the religion or whether or not it borrowed from other religions (something all major faiths have done). Roman Catholicism just didn't do anything for me anymore.

I think the "establishment" in Jerusalem wanted Jesus condemned even more than the Romans did. To the Romans Jesus was just another trouble-maker, but to the powerful priests of the Temple Jesus was a real danger: someone who called himself king and had a growing following of believers. That's how the Temple administration saw it, anyway.

Whether he ever proclaimed himself to be the son of God is really beyond our knowing. There's no evidence to suggest he didn't. He was one of numerous messiah-figures in the environs of Judah at that time. All we have to go by is the New Testament, but it's easy to be skeptical considering none of its writings about Jesus were, as you said, written in the time of Jesus.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic has gone dangerously off topic - have we learned nothing from the last two threads I locked? I can hear the zealots coming even now... Sad

The original question was "Just wondering if there was some kind of Egyptian festival around the time of christmas", not who does or doesn't believe in Christianity. Please leave Christianity posts to forums elsewhere on the web more suited to that topic.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My apologies, Kevin.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin wrote:
The original question was "Just wondering if there was some kind of Egyptian festival around the time of christmas", ....


To try and bring the issue back on topic, I think we're looking at the topic the wrong way. Better we should ask this question:

Is there a festival near the end of the Egyptian year, which may roughly correspond to the same idea of a modern "Christmas"?

Recall that the Egyptian year is based upon the heiliacal rising of Sirius. To coordinate the cycle, there were 5 epagomenal days added to the 12 30-day months of the Egyptian calendar to roughly corresponded with the rising of the star Sirius, which heralded the Egyptian New Year, which occurred anywhere from late July to early August.

During the 5 epagomenal days, there were feasts and festivals, with each day assigned to the births of the 5 children of Nut (Osiris, Isis, Nepthys, Seth and the Elder Horus).

Mythically this was explained as a situation where the sun-god, not wishing to have Nut bear children which could one day supplant him as ruler, ordered that no day of the year could be given for Nut to give birth. But, in myth, the god Thoth won 5 additional days through a game of dice with the moon-god Iah, so that Nut could bear her children. As these days are "outside" the regular year, they are set aside as festival days.

It appears, from Old and Middle Kingdom records, that during these days, kings would grant boons (gifts) of land, honours, and so on to specific nobles within his court. Whether more widespread gifts were passed on to the general populace is not as clear.

However, if we're talking about whether there was a festival which as on some way associated with the Winter Solstice, as is thought to be the case of modern Christmas (via the Roman festival of Saturnalia/Sol Invictus), this seems rather tenuous. There is some thought, mainly by R. A. Wells (1992 and 1994), that the festival of /mswt ra/ "Birth of the sun" in the Egyptian civil month of Mesore is a winter solstice festival: others disagree.

For more information on Egyptian festivals, see

Clagett, M. 1995. Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book. Calendars, Clocks and Astronomy. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.

el-Sabban, S. 2000. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Liverpool Monographs in Archaeology and Oriental Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Parker, R. A. 1950. The Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilizations (SAOC) 26. T. G. Allen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spalinger, A. 1992. Three Studies on Egyptian Feasts and Their Chronological Implications. Baltimore: Halgo, Inc.

Wells, R. A. 1992. The Mythology of Nut and the Birth of Ra. SAK 19: 305-321.

_________. 1994. Re and the Calendars. In A. J. Spalinger, ed., Revolutions in Time: Studies in Ancient Egyptian Calendrics: 1-37. Varia Aegyptiaca Supplement 6. San Antonio: Van Siclen Books.

HTH.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

neseret wrote:
There is some thought, mainly by R. A. Wells (1992 and 1994), that the festival of /mswt ra/ "Birth of the sun" in the Egyptian civil month of Mesore is a winter solstice festival: others disagree.


In any case, if it was tied into the civil calendar, wouldn't it slip around the "real"/solar year?

This was something I looked into briefly some time back, and didn't see anything to indicate the Egyptians paid a whole lot of attention to the solstices and equinoxes. Perhaps, being closer to the tropics (Aswan is just about on the Tropic of Cancer, isn't it?), the effects are less noticeable anyway than in higher latitudes?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin wrote:
This topic has gone dangerously off topic - have we learned nothing from the last two threads I locked? I can hear the zealots coming even now... Sad

The original question was "Just wondering if there was some kind of Egyptian festival around the time of christmas", not who does or doesn't believe in Christianity. Please leave Christianity posts to forums elsewhere on the web more suited to that topic.



Are we not allowed to mention anything to do with Christianity on these forums? That seems rather odd considering the fact that the Jews lived in Egypt for thousands of years prior to their exodus. Perhaps you get offended too easily?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Are we not allowed to mention anything to do with Christianity on these forums? That seems rather odd considering the fact that the Jews lived in Egypt for thousands of years prior to their exodus. Perhaps you get offended too easily?


Of course we can mention Christianity, as long as it fits into the theme of the discussion. This discussion was about possible pagan Egyptian festivals occurring at or around the time of what we now celebrate as Christmas, but not about Christianity in general.

I may be a Moderator but I was as guilty as anyone in taking the discussion off topic. To me this indicates that the original theme of the discussion has grown stale and perhaps the discussion ought to be allowed to die a quiet and dignified death. I should've known better myself.

If there's something about Christianity you want to discuss in relation to ancient Egypt, please feel free to start a brand new discussion about it in a new thread. If you want to talk about something related to Christianity, feel free to start a new thread in the General Discussion forum. It just needs to be done with tact and respect. That's a guiding principle at Egyptian Dreams...at all times.

Otherwise, Kevin was right about reminding us: this one here is about pagan Egyptian festivals in late December. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:44 pm    Post subject: For anyone wondering about the tree Reply with quote

It seems to have originated in the uhhh "celtic" isles courtesy of the non celtic tribes that lived there. originally it was just ribbons and stuffs that they draped over trees to make wishes and to aquire blessings or some sort of thing. (But that was not really my area of interest sooo my knowledge of them is limited to what scandinavians are like in bed. ( I am married to one) I hope that atleast answers the tree question.
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