Coptic Calendar

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:Thout also known as Tout is the first month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[September 11]] and [[October 10]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Thout is also the first month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Thout comes from Thot, the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom.
 
:Thout also known as Tout is the first month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[September 11]] and [[October 10]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Thout is also the first month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Thout comes from Thot, the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom.
 
* '''Paopi'''
 
* '''Paopi'''
:Paopi also known as Baba is the second month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[October 11]] and [[November 10]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paopi is also the second month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Paopi comes from Hapy, the Ancient Egyptian Nile God.
+
:Paopi also known as Baba is the second month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[October 11]] and [[November 9]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paopi is also the second month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Paopi comes from Hapy, the Ancient Egyptian Nile God.
 
* '''Hathor'''
 
* '''Hathor'''
:Hathor also known as Hatour is the third month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[November 11]] and [[December 9]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Hathor is also the third month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Hathor comes from Hathor, the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Beauty and Love.
+
:Hathor also known as Hatour is the third month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[November 10]] and [[December 9]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Hathor is also the third month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Hathor comes from Hathor, the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Beauty and Love.
 
* '''Koiak'''
 
* '''Koiak'''
 
:Koiak also known as Kiahk is the fourth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[December 10]] and [[January 8]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Koiak is also the fourth month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Koiak comes from Ka Ha Ka, which means Good of Good, a name of the Ancient Egyptian sacred Apis Bull.
 
:Koiak also known as Kiahk is the fourth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between [[December 10]] and [[January 8]] of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Koiak is also the fourth month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Koiak comes from Ka Ha Ka, which means Good of Good, a name of the Ancient Egyptian sacred Apis Bull.

Revision as of 21:17, November 24, 2010

The Coptic Calendar, also called the Alexandrian Calendar, is used by the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is based on the Ancient Egyptian calendar. Egyptians were the first to calculate time. They divided the year into 12 months, according to their knowledge of the stars. Each of the 12 months was 30 days long, and they added five more days, which they called the 'small month'. Therefore, their year became 365 days long. To avoid the calendar creep of the Ancient Egyptian calendar, a reform of the calendar was introduced at the time of Ptolemy III (Decree of Canopus, in 238 BC), which consisted in the intercalation of a 6th epagomenal (auxiliary) day every fourth year. However, this reform was opposed by the Egyptian priests, and the idea was not adopted until 25 BC, when the Roman Emperor Augustus formally reformed the calendar of Egypt, keeping it forever synchronized with the newly introduced Julian calendar. To distinguish it from the Ancient Egyptian calendar, which remained in use by some astronomers until medieval times, this reformed calendar is known as the Coptic calendar. Its years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar [1], but the latter has different Amharic month names.

Contents

The Coptic year

The Coptic year is the extension of the ancient Egyptian civil year, retaining its subdivision into the three seasons, four months each. The three seasons are commemorated by special prayers in the Coptic Liturgy. This calendar is still in use all over Egypt by farmers to keep track of the various agricultural seasons. (Egypt used the Coptic Calendar till the Khedive Ismael adopted the Western Gregorian Calendar in the nineteenth century and applied it in Egypt's government departments.)

The Coptic calendar has 13 months, 12 of 30 days each and an intercalary month at the end of the year of 5 or 6 days, depending whether the year is a leap year or not. The year starts on 29 August in the Julian Calendar or on the 30th in the year before (Julian) Leap Years. The Coptic Leap Year follows the same rules as the Julian Calendar so that the extra month always has six days in the year before a Julian Leap Year.

The Feast of Neyrouz marks the first day of the Coptic year. Its celebration falls on the 1st day of the month of Thout, the first month of the Coptic year, which for AD 1901 to 2098 usually coincides with 11 September, except before a Gregorian leap year when it's September 12. Coptic years are counted from AD 284, the year Diocletian became Roman Emperor, whose reign was marked by tortures and mass executions of Christians, especially in Egypt. Hence, the Coptic year is identified by the abbreviation A.M. (for Anno Martyrum or "Year of the Martyrs"). The A.M. abbreviation is also used for the unrelated Jewish year (Anno Mundi).

Every fourth Coptic year is a leap year without exception, as in the Julian calendar, so the above mentioned new year dates apply only between AD 1900 and 2099 inclusive in the Gregorian Calendar. In the Julian Calendar, the new year is always 29 August, except before a Julian leap year when it's August 30. Easter is reckoned by the Julian Calendar in the Old Calendarist way.

To obtain the Coptic year number, subtract from the Julian year number either 283 (before the Julian new year) or 284 (after it).

The date of Christmas

The choice of 25 December to celebrate the Nativity of Christ was first proposed by Hippolytus of Rome (170–236), but was apparently not accepted until either 336 or 364. Dionysius of Alexandria emphatically quoted mystical justifications for this very choice:

March 25 was considered to be the anniversary of Creation itself. It was the first day of the year in the medieval Julian calendar and the nominal vernal equinox (it had been the actual equinox at the time when the Julian calendar was originally designed). Considering that Christ was conceived at that date turned March 25 into the Feast of the Annunciation which had to be followed, nine months later, by the celebration of the birth of Christ, Christmas, on December 25.

There may have been more practical considerations for choosing 25 December. The choice would help substitute a major Christian holiday for the popular pagan celebrations around the winter solstice (Roman Saturnalia or Brumalia). The religious competition was fierce. In 274, Emperor Aurelian had declared a civil holiday on December 25 (the Festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun, or Sol Invictus) to celebrate the birth of Mithras, the Persian Sun-God whose cult predated Zoroastrianism and was then very popular among the Roman military. Finally, joyous festivals are needed at that time of year, to fight the natural gloom of the season. Whatever the actual reasons were for choosing a December 25 celebration, the scriptures indicate that the birth of Jesus of Nazareth did not even take place around that time of year, since there were in the same country sherperds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8). During cold months, shepherds brought their flocks into corrals and did not sleep in the fields. That's about all we know directly from scriptures, besides wild speculations.

Until the 16th century, 25 December coincided with 29 Koiak of the Coptic calendar. However, upon the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, December 25 shifted two weeks earlier in comparison with the Julian and Coptic calendars. This is the reason why Old Calendarists (using the Julian and Coptic calendars) celebrate Christmas on January 7, two weeks after the New-Calendrists (using the Gregorian calendar), who celebrate Christmas on December 25.

The date of Easter

According to Christian tradition, Jesus died at the ninth hour (that is, the canonical hour of nona or 'noon' in Middle English - 3:00 pm) of the first full day of Pesach, when that day fell on a Friday; and arose from the dead at or by the first (canonical) hour of that Sunday. The day of Pesach (Pascha or Passover, Nisan 14), is always at the first or second full moon following the vernal equinox. At the First Ecumenical Council, held in 325 at Nicea, it was decided to celebrate Easter on the Sunday following the so-called Paschal full moon. The Paschal full moon is an arithmetical approximation to the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It may be expressed as follows in terms of the so-called Golden number (G) and Century term (C):

  • Paschal full moon (PFM) = (19 April, or 50 March) - (C+11G) mod 30

Except in two cases where the PFM is one day earlier than this, namely:

  • When (C+11G) is 0 modulo 30, PFM = 18 April (not 19 April).
  • When (C+11G) is 1 modulo 30, and G=12, PFM = 17 April (not 18).

The Golden number (G) is the same for both Julian and Gregorian computations, but the Century term is constant (C = +3) in Julian computations:

CopticEasterComputations.jpg

C is -4 from 1583 to 1699, -5 from 1700 to 1899, -6 from 1900 to 2199, -7 from 2200 to 2299 etc... As the Sunday following the PFM, Easter is one week after the PFM when the PFM happens to fall on a Sunday. One must work with the Julian calendar (C = +3) to find when Easter is celebrated by Orthodox churches.

At the Council of Nicea, it became one duty of the Coptic Pope of Alexandria to determine the exact dates of Easter and to announce it to the rest of the Christian churches (see Pope Demetrius the Vinedresser, 3rd cent.). This duty fell on this officate because of the erudition at Alexandria he could draw on. The precise rules to determine this are very involved, but Easter is usually the first Sunday after a full moon occurring no sooner than March 21, which was the actual date of the vernal equinox at the time of the First Council of Nicea. Shortly before Julius Caesar reformed the calendar, the vernal equinox was occurring on the "nominal" date of March 25. This was abandoned at Nicea, but the reason for the observed discrepancy was all but ignored (the actual tropical year is not quite equal to the Julian year of 365¼ days, so the date of the equinox keeps creeping back in the Julian calendar).

See also: Computus, Julian Calendar, Revised Julian Calendar

Coptic months

  • Thout
Thout also known as Tout is the first month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between September 11 and October 10 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Thout is also the first month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Thout comes from Thot, the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom.
  • Paopi
Paopi also known as Baba is the second month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between October 11 and November 9 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paopi is also the second month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Paopi comes from Hapy, the Ancient Egyptian Nile God.
  • Hathor
Hathor also known as Hatour is the third month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between November 10 and December 9 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Hathor is also the third month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Hathor comes from Hathor, the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Beauty and Love.
  • Koiak
Koiak also known as Kiahk is the fourth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between December 10 and January 8 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Koiak is also the fourth month of the Season of 'Akhet' (Inundation) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods cover the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Koiak comes from Ka Ha Ka, which means Good of Good, a name of the Ancient Egyptian sacred Apis Bull.
  • Tobi
Tobi also known as Touba is the fifth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between January 9 and February 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Tobi is also the first month of the Season of 'Proyet' (Growth) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods recede and the crops start to grow throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Tobi comes from Amso Khem, a form of the Ancient Egyptian God Amun Ra. The Hebrew word tobi means 'goodness'.
  • Meshir
Meshir also known as Amshir is the sixth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between February 8 and March 9 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Meshir is also the second month of the Season of 'Proyet' (Growth) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods recede and the crops start to grow throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Meshir comes from Mechir, the Ancient Egyptian God genius of wind.
  • Paremhat
Paremhat also known as Baramhat is the seventh month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between March 10 and April 8 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paremhat is also the third month of the Season of 'Proyet' (Growth) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods recede and the crops start to grow throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Paremhat comes from Mont, the Ancient Egyptian God of War.
  • Paremoude
Paremoude also known as Barmouda is the eighth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between April 9 and May 8 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paremoude is also the fourth month of the Season of 'Proyet' (Growth) in Ancient Egypt, where the Nile floods recede and the crops start to grow throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Paremoude comes from Renno, the Ancient Egyptian God of severe wind and death.
  • Pashons
Pashons also known as Bashans is the ninth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between May 9 and June 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Pashons is also the first month of the Season of 'Shemu' (Harvest) in Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians harvest their crops throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Pashons comes from Khenti, a form of Horus and the Ancient Egyptian God of metal.
  • Paoni
Paoni also known as Baona is the tenth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between June 8 and July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Paoni is also the second month of the Season of 'Shemu' (Harvest) in Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians harvest their crops throughout the land of Egypt. The origin of the name of the month of Paoni remains unknown.
  • Epip
Epip also known as Abib is the eleventh month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between July 8 and August 6 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Epip is also the third month of the Season of 'Shemu' (Harvest) in Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians harvest their crops throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Epip comes from Apida, the serpent that Horus killed.
  • Mesori
Mesori also known as Mesra is the twelfth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between August 7 and September 5 of the Gregorian calendar. The month of Mesori is also the fourth month of the Season of 'Shemu' (Harvest) in Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians harvest their crops throughout the land of Egypt. The name of the month of Mesori comes from Mes-o-ri, an Ancient Egyptian word that mean Birth of Sun.
  • Pi Kogi Enavot (Nasii)
Pi Kogi Enavot also known as El Nasii is the thirteenth and last month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between September 6 and September 10 of the Gregorian calendar. That month is also incorporated in the Season of 'Shemu' (Harvest) in Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptians harvest their crops throughout the land of Egypt. The name Pi Kogi Enavot means the little month.

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