Thousands of Egyptians celebrated the arrival of spring on Monday to commemorate a uniquely Egyptian tradition practiced since the days of the Pharaohs.
“Sham El Nessim” is an Egyptian national holiday marking the beginning of Spring.
The word itself literary means “Smelling the Zephyr”, and it is derived from the word “Shemu” Ancient Egyptians used to call the feast. The Sham El Nessim falls in the first day of the third and last season on the calendar used by Ancient Egyptians which was based on the 3 cycles of the Nile.
When Christianity entered Egypt, the feast became associated with Easter, and is now celebrated the day after Eastern Christian Easter.
Ancient Egyptians believed that “Sham El Nessim” day marks the beginning of world creation; when “Ra” The Sun God sails with his boat in the skies and anchors on the top of the great Pyramid, a journey that symbolizes life and death. They made special preparations for the day, wearing their finest clothes and they went to temples holding flowers to present food to the gods. The feast was also celebrated with a special meal that consisted of colored eggs, Salted fish, onions and lettuce. This food symbolized the idea of creation of the world.
Eggs refer to creation of life and Egyptians used to draw on eggs their wishes and prayers. As for onions, Ancient Egyptians believed that it keeps disease and evil spirits away, while they believed lettuce has a power in increasing fertility. Fish was in the daily diet of Ancient Egyptians since they glorified River Nile and they believed life on earth started in water, so Nile fish to them was symbolizing life and they used to eat salted fish in their important festivals.