FANDOM


Ancient Egyptian festivals centred on procession by land and river, and were celebrated on particular days or series of days in the official year. The official year (365 days) was just short of the solar year (the time the earth takes to go around the sun, 365 1/4 days); as a result, the official year gradually moved back, with the official 'winter' months and their festivals falling into the summer. There seems to be no attempt to move the festivals, even those relating to agricultural events in the solar year such as flood, or the low-river sowing season. Such fixed reference to the official year demonstrates the remarkable power of the centralised kingship, in determining the timing of festivals that would have been celebrated by large numbers across the country. The role of festivals in daily life is indicated by the names of months; these derive from names of festivals, often with a prefix 'Paen-' meaning 'the (festival/month) of', and were kept in use even after the conversion of Egypt to Christianity in the early centuries AD.

The evidence for festivals is uneven; there are more inscriptions recording funerary and royal festivals, and far more evidence from Thebes than from the rest of Egypt. One of the most important sources is the hieroglyphic inscription recording a great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. The following list gives the festivals noted by Siegfried Schott in his study of festival dates, in the order they occurred in the Egyptian year. Each month is introduced by its number in the sequence of 12 months in the Egyptian calendar, with the ancient Egyptian name of the month in an early New Kingdom list, the late New Kingdom month name, its early medieval equivalent in Coptic (Christian) Egypt, and the rough equivalent in the modern calendar in the ideal official year when it matched more or less the solar year (though the official year moved out of step with the solar year, as explained above). Each month had 30 days, and the festivals are listed in sequence; some festivals moved or grew over time, and others are known only from one period. Each year, five days were added to the 12 months of 30 days to bring the total to 365, as close as integrally possible to the 365 1/4 days of the solar year; each 'extra' day was celebrated as the birthday of a particular deity. In addition to the seasonal festivals, there would have been festivals specific to each reign, such as the accession day of the reigning king.


Season of Flood

Month 1 (1st month of 12 in year; August)

Tekh = Thoth = Coptic Thout

day 1 New Year - Opening of the Year - birthday of Ra-Horakhty (the sun-god)

day 15 offerings to Hapy and Amun to secure a good flood (known from Dynasty 19 rock inscriptions at Gebel el-Silsila)

day 17 eve of the Wag festival

day 18 Wag festival

day 19 Wag and Thoth festival, according to the great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu

day 20 Tekh (drunkenness)

day 22 Great Procession (of Osiris)


Month 2 (2nd month of 12 in year; September)

Menkhet = Panipet = Coptic Paopi

day 15 start of Ipet festival as 11-day festivities for Amun in Luxor, according to the festival list of Thutmose III at Elephantine

day 19 start of Ipet festival as 27-day festivities for Amun in Luxor, according to the record of good deeds of Ramesses III (Papyrus Harris I), and great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu

Note: the river procession and offerings at the Ipet festival are depicted on the walls of the great colonnade of the temple of Amun at Luxor

day 18 local Elephantine festival of Khnum and Anuqet, according to the festival list of Thutmose III at Elephantine

day 27 start of 2-day local festival of Mont, according to the late Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC) accounts papyrus Boulaq 18 (referring to it as 'festival of Mont'; this may be not an annual festival, but one ceremony, perhaps at the consecration of a shrine)

day 28 local Elephantine festival of Satet and Anuqet, according to the festival list of Thutmose III at Elephantine

day not specified: Menkhet ('Cloth') festival, according to late Middle Kingdom accounts papyrus listing singers and dancers UC 32191


Month 3 (3rd month of 12 in year; October)

Hathor = Coptic Athor

day 9 festival for Amun, according to the festival list of Thutmose III at Elephantine

day 30 local Elephantine festival of Anuqet, according to the festival list of Thutmose III at Elephantine


Month 4 (4th month of 12 in year; November)

Nehebkau = Kaherka = Coptic Khoiak

day 1 festival for Hathor, according to the great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu

day 18 start of the Khoiak ceremonies: main events of this festival, centred on the Osiris myth, are

day 22 Ploughing the Earth day 26 Sokar festival day 30 raising the Djed-pillar(edited)



Season of Sowing

Month 1 (5th month of 12 in year; December)

Shefbedet = Ta-aabet = Coptic Tobi

day 1 festival of Nehebkau (called the Beginning of Eternity in an inscription for king Sety I at Nauri)

day 20 sailing of Wadjyt, according to an inscription for king Thutmose III at the temple of Mut, Karnak

day 29 sailing of Bast, according to an inscription for king Thutmose III at the temple of Mut, Karnak

day 29 festival of Raising the Willow, according to the great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu

day 30 sailing of Shesmet, according to an inscription for king Thutmose III at the temple of Mut, Karnak

according to a late New Kingdom Turin papyrus, the festival is the sailing of Mut lady of Isheru


Month 2 (6th month of 12 in year; January)

Rekehwer = (Paen)-mekhir = Coptic Mekhir

day 1 sailing of Anubis

day 30 key date in a festival spanning several days, identified sometimes as 'Amun-in-the-festival-of-raising-heaven', and in some sources the day of bringing branches of the ished-tree (sacred tree of the sun-god at Iunu) and culminating on the next day, the first of the next month, with the ceremony of filling the sacred eye in Iunu; this is the halfway point of the year, ideal 'midwinter'


Month 3 (7th month of 12 in year; February)

Rekehnedjes = Paenamenhotep = Coptic Phamenoth

day 1 festival of Ptah (perhaps local to Thebes?), according to the journal for work on the king's tomb; day of return of the image of the deity in the festival 'Amun-in-the-festival-of-raising-heaven'

day 21 festival of king Amenhotep I in the valley (originally local to Thebes? month name indicates broader observation later?)

day 29 start (?) of 4-day festival of king Amenhotep I for the Deir el-Medina workforce


Month 4 (8th month of 12 in year; March)

(Paen)renenutet = Coptic Pharmouthi

day 4 festival of Bast, also recorded as the day of chewing onions for Bast

day 5 appearance of Bast in her boat, according to a Dynasty 26 statue (Louvre A88)

day 25 harvest offering to Renenutet, according to a depiction in Theban Tomb-chapel 38

day 27 granary offering to Renenutet, according to a depiction in Theban tomb-chapel 48(edited)



Season of Summer

Month 1 (9th month of 12 in year; April)

(Paen)khons = Coptic Pakhon

day 1 festival of Renenutet, also identified as the birthday of Nepri (personification of grain)

day 10 adoration of Anubis

day 11 festival of Min, a 4-day festival at the New Moon according to the great festival list in the temple for Ramesses III at Medinet Habu


Month 2 (10th month of 12 in year; May)

Khentkhety = Paeninet = Coptic Paoni

Festival of the Valley celebrated at the New Moon in this month; this was the greatest festival of the Theban necropolis, when the image of Amun of Karnak on the east bank at Thebes was brought to the temples for the cult of individual kings on the west bank - a distinctive feature of this festival was the presentation of great quantities of flowers - this would have been a time for each family to feast with their dead, and the architecture and decoration of tomb-chapels at Thebes reflect such festive banquets


Month 3 (11th month of 12 in year; June)

Ipet-hemet = Ipip = Coptic Epip

day 15 offerings to Hapy and Amun to secure a good flood (known from Dynasty 19 rock inscriptions at Gebel el-Silsila)

day 30 eve of the Hathor festival at Thebes, according to stela for king Thutmose III, Cairo CG 34013


Month 4 (12th month of 12 in year; July)

Wepet-renpet 'Opening of the Year' = Mesut-Ra 'birth of Ra' = Coptic Mesori

days 1-2 festival, occasion not specified, according to late New Kingdom ostracon Deir el-Medina 209, verso, line 4

day 2 Ipip festival, according to the journal for work on the king's tomb, Necropolis Journal pl.59, line 19

day 24 festival of Ptah (local?), according to a rough inscription on a Middle Kingdom pyramid

day 30 eve of start of year



The Five Days Over the Year

Days 361-365 of the official year, added to the 12 months.

Day 1

Birthday of Osiris


Day 2

Birthday of Horus


Day 3

Birthday of Seth


Day 4

Birthday of Isis


Day 5

Birthday of Nephthys

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.