The Coptic Calendar

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The Coptic Calendar

The Coptic calendar is the new version of the Pharaonic calendar.

The Pharaonic calendar was started more than 4000 years before Christ, in Egypt. The Pharaohs used to watch for the shining appearance of both the sun, and the star named “El Shaara El Yamaneya” together on the eastern horizon morning. They built the Sphynx, whose nose points toward the location of the appearance of the sun and this star together, and divided this period of time between their appearance into 12 months - each 30 days long, and an additional smaller month of 5 days.

In the 2nd century BC, Pharaonic astronomists discovered dislocation of the sun on the feast day of their god. They were used to the sun shining in through a small window in their temple, and directly onto the face of the statue of their god on its feast day. They divided the days of dislocation over the years through which the dislocation occurred – they found about 6 hours each year. They then took these hours of dislocation every year which they added as one day every four years to make the small month 6 days (in leap years) instead of 5 (in the other 3 years).

During the reign of the Caesar Julius of the Roman Empire, he gathered the Pharaonic astronomists in Rosette (Rasheed), near Alexandria to adapt the Roman calendar (which started with the establishment of the City of Rome). This calendar was only 10 months long, starting from March (named after the Greek god of war), and ending with December (Sep = 7th month, Oct = 8th month, Nov = 9th month). The Pharaonic astronomists added 2 months before March (Jan. and Feb.), and named the fifth month July for Julius Caesar (and during Augustus Caesar’s reign, named the 6th month August for him). The adapted calendar was called the Julianic Calendar.

In 284, Diocletian became Emperor, and killed many Coptic martyrs. The Copts then chose this year as the first year of their Pharaonic calendar, and called it the Coptic Calendar of Martyrs which started on the 11th of September (or 12th September in a leap year). The Calendar starts with the month of Tuhute (named after the Pharaonic god of knowledge).

As related by His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Anba Abraham. All rights reserved.