Sham Ennessim

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Sham Ennessim
Official nameشم النسيم Sham an-Nassim
Observed byEgyptians, Copts
TypeCultural, seasonal, and agricultural
DateThe day after Eastern Christian Easter
2018 date9 April
2019 date29 April
Related toEaster

Sham Ennessim (Arabic: شم النسيم‎, Sham Al Nassim or Sham an-Nassim, IPA: [ˈʃæmm ennɪˈsiːm]) Coptic: Ϭⲱⲙ ̀ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ, Shom Ennisim) is an Egyptian national holiday marking the beginning of spring. It always falls on the day after the Eastern Christian Easter (following the custom of the largest Christian denomination in the country, the Coptic Orthodox Church).

Despite the Christian-related date, the holiday is celebrated by Egyptians of all religions,[1] so it is considered a national festival, rather than a religious one. The main features of the festival are:


According to annals written by Plutarch during the 1st century AD, the Ancient Egyptians used to offer salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their deities during the spring festival known as Shemu.[2]

After the Christianization of Egypt, the festival became associated with the other Christian spring festival, Easter. Over time, Shemu morphed into its current form and its current date, and by the time of the Islamic conquest of Egypt, the holiday was settled on Easter Monday. The Islamic calendar being lunar and thus unfixed relative to the solar year, the date of Sham el-Nessim remained on the Christian-linked date. As Egypt became Arabized, the term Shemu found a rough phono-semantic match in Sham el-Nessim, or "Smelling/Taking In the Zephyrs,"[citation needed] which fairly accurately represents the way in which Egyptians celebrate the holiday.

See also[edit]