The festivals in Ancient Egypt were abundant and varied between official and popular feasts, whether general at the country level or local in each region separately.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated these feasts by decorating and lighting temples, singing songs, presenting offerings and sacrifices. The ancient Egyptians linked these feasts in their entirety to faith.
Diversity of Festivals in Ancient Egypt
The Palermo stone – which dates back to 2500 BC – reveals to us many of these holidays. And also, the ancient Egyptians enthralled the walls of the temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu, Esna, Dendera and Abydos, with many lists bearing the names of many of those holidays. The Egyptian holidays varied widely. The ancients celebrated public holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Flood Day. Also, they had popular holidays; relating to a specific category or occasion, such as the new year, wedding feasts. Besides, they celebrated local holidays connected to a particular region or city, such as the birthday of a local deity and his victory day over his enemy.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated the feast of the transfer of the god Amun from Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple in Thebes. The procession exits from Karnak Temple, led by priests who carried the sacred boat on their shoulders. The boats of the Theban Trinity (Amon, Mut and Khonsu) – and then they carried the boat of Amun. These priests brought it out of the temple’s Holy of Holies until they reach the Nile bank. Then, they placed the sacred barks on real boats in the Nile and sailed them south towards the Temple of Luxor. Meanwhile, the crowds gather on the eastern bank of the Nile, singing and chanting for the procession. Also, the priestesses sang joyful songs while carrying musical instruments.
Boats stand on the Nile bank in front of the Luxor Temple. At the same time, priests carry the Trinity boats on their shoulders. And the masses walk behind them singing joyfully. The women dance and play with musical instruments. Upon reaching the temple, the king makes offerings and sacrifices. The rituals proceeded at Luxor Temple for one night. A few days before the procession returned to the Karnak temple in the same way; The festivities continued for another eleven days. On the other hand, because of the congestion, the police secure the procession and the masses.
Affect of Heritage
The exciting thing is that the current residents of Luxor still celebrate their religious occasions the same way as the ancients. On the anniversary of (Abu al-Hajjaj al-Luxor), his visitors stroll by standing on the Nile shore and crossing the crowded boats on its shores.
Beautiful Meeting Festivals
The Ancient Egyptians celebrated the Beautiful Meeting when the procession of the goddess Hathor moved from her temple in Dendera. Where the priests took her boat – surrounded by the huddled masses – and headed south across the Nile until they reached the temple of Edfu. Where her goddess husband Horus is. To spend with him there fifteen days in a beautiful meeting. And during the procession, it stops at the city (Esna), where its ruler offers the procession escorts of the great crowds 500 loaves of bread, 100 vessels of wine, and 30 shoulders of cattle – the people of Asna were and still are known for their generosity.
On the Nile banks of Edfu, the ruler of Edfu with the priests and the masses awaited the Hathor’s procession. The more the parade sailed south, the greater the number of crowds. The crowds remained outside the temple of Horus, singing and dancing for fifteen days. Waiting for Hathor to leave and return to Dendera again! whose joy would be upon them, and they would increase in splendour and brilliance. The god Horus escorts the goddess Hathor away from the eyes of the masses. And they spend the beautiful times together in happiness and contentment.
Valentine Sed Festival
The Valentine Sed Festival is one of the holidays of great importance to the ancient Egyptians. It was the thirtieth feast where the Pharoah celebrated the thirtieth year of his ascension to the throne. Therefore, the king appears while he is on his throne in full strength. While the masses around him are happy and excited, waiting for the king’s word that prepares them. There is a new thirtieth festival full of prosperity and prosperity, and they prove this by rebuilding some of the temple’s chapels with gold, silver and precious stones!
New Year Festival
The ancient Egyptian celebration of the New Year was special. They called it “Webt Rabbit Nefert”, meaning “the opening feast of the beautiful year”. The festival began with the sunrise of the 11th of September, “Tut”, the fourth month. The Yemeni poetic star appears on the horizon with the dawn of that day. Regarding the flood season, they associated it with the flood itself the same as the year; The ancient Egyptians noticed that the surge is an annual phenomenon that recurs regularly. They also believed that the flood was nothing but the tears of the goddess Isis, who kept crying for her husband Osiris after his brother Set killed him.
The year monthly division for the ancient Egyptians was – as it is now 12 months. They divided each month into 30 days; however, they dropped the remaining five days of the year calendar. They dropped it even from their historical events. Yet, New Year’s Day continued throughout those five days. They were spending it in celebrations and joys outside homes, and the celebrations started from the temple. They went to the upper cabin on the temple roof, carrying bread, cakes, pancakes and wine. Then they went out to the fields and on the Nile bank, enjoying the plants, roses, winds and the beautiful calm atmosphere. Leaving behind the world’s troubles and worries that haunted them throughout the year. Their food on New Year’s Day included ducks, geese and fish.
Habits Related to the Festivals
The ancient Egyptians used to make cakes in the form of multiple geometric shapes. They were making them in the form of animals or flowers and stuffed them with dried dates. Then they stacked them on slabs of slate – because it was the rock that was easy to cut into panels. And then they baked them. They baked the cake type designated for visiting tombs in the form of a set amulet. “the knot of Isis” is one of the amulets that open the gates of bliss for the dead. Thus each of the ancient Egyptian holidays had a bond that linked them to the afterlife.