Sham el-Nessim in Egypt Date in the current year: May 2, 2016

Sham el-Nessim in Egypt Sham el-Nessim is an Egyptian national holiday that marks the beginning of spring. It always coincides with Easter Monday in the Eastern Christianity, following the custom of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The holiday is believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt. On the first day of the harvest season (Shemu), the Ancient Egyptians offered onions, lettuces, and salted fish to their deities. After the christianization of Egypt, the pagan spring festival became associated with Easter that fell during the same period.

The festival gradually morphed into its modern form. Even when Egypt was conquered by the Muslims and most Egyptians converted to Islam, they continued to celebrate Shemu. However, the name of the festival was replaced by an Arabic phono-semantic match Sham el-Nessim, which means “the smelling of the Zephyrus” (west wind).

Sham el-Nessim is not considered a religious festival and is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims throughout the country. People typically spend this day outdoors, picnicking. Traditional food eaten on the occasion of Sham el-Nessim includes fesikh (a traditional dish made with salted and dried gray mullet), green onions, lupini beans, lettuce, and colored boiled eggs.

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Sham el-Nessim, spring festivals, holidays in Egypt, public holiday, Easter Monday