Bulgarian orthodox Easter Eggs - via Wikimedia Commons Bulgarian orthodox Easter Eggs - via Wikimedia Commons

Sham El-Nessim: Egypt’s oldest celebration

Mon, Apr. 9, 2018
CAIRO – 9 April 2018: Sham El-Nessim is an old spring festival celebrated by the Egyptians since 2,700 BC (the third dynasty of the Old Kingdom).

This festival doesn’t have any religious background. Sham El-Nessim is usually a national holiday, marking the beginning of spring and coming after Easter.

The festival is related to the agricultural background of ancient Egyptians. The name Sham El-Nessim or (inhaling the breeze) is derived from the Coptic language, which was derived from the ancient Egyptian language. The original pronunciation is Tshom Ni Tshom, which means garden meadows.

In ancient times, Egyptians celebrated the holiday at the spring equinox, the date of which could be determined by looking at the direction of the sunlight at sunrise over the pyramids. When Egypt was a Christian country under the rule of the Roman Empire, Sham El-Nessim joined the Christian Easter celebrations. However, when it became an Arab country, Sham El-Nessim stayed on its Easter date and has been scheduled like most Muslim festivals celebrated every year.

On the day, Egyptians head out to parks, gardens and zoos with their families to enjoy their traditional meals of salted fish, onions and eggs. They can also enjoy celebrating Easter and Sham El- Nessim in different places in whether in Cairo or in other governorates.

A gril enjoys her time in Sham el Nassim on Monday in Giza Zoo- Egypt Today- Hazem Abdel-Samad
A girl enjoys her time in Sham El-Nessim on Monday in Giza Zoo - Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel-Samad


On Sham El-Nessim, both children and adults color and decorate eggs in various patterns, a traditional activity that goes back to the ancient Egyptians, with eggs being symbolic of new lives and new beginnings.

Sham El-Nessim's ceremonial rituals are not limited to eating and going on picnics, as Egyptians also celebrate by dancing, singing and attending theater performances. Over time, Sham El-Nessim has also become an opportunity for families to travel to the beach and enjoy the pleasant weather.


For Egypt Today's guide on how to prepare the perfect Easter or Sham El-Nessim picnic,

click here



For Egypt's Today's guide on 10 great places to visit for Easter or Sham El-Nessim,

click here

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