Festivals in Ancient Egypt
During ancient times, there used to be many festivals known as “Heb” throughout the year to give thanks to the gods and make divine favors. In the festivals in ancient Egypt, the Egyptian would offer sacrifices, offerings and celebrate the might of the gods, but the true purpose of these festivals was to behold the gods with their own eyes and maintain the belief structure that the world is operated through the will of the gods as interpreted by the priests and implemented by the Pharaoh. Festivals in Ancient Egypt simply served as manifestations of the divine in human existence and, as such, created a pattern of life for the Egyptian people.
The Egyptian organized their time to fit their festivals as the Egyptian calendar was divided into 12 months of exactly 30 days and the entire year was split into three seasons, the first season was Akhet the season of flooding, the second was Peret the season of growth and the third was Shemu the season of harvesting plus they added five extra days to celebrate a different deity of each day with their own special festival. The ancient Egyptian festivals would involve a procession of a god by boat or land across a specific route such as the route found at Karnak temple.
At the beginning of each year, they would hold a festival and also at the end to emphasize the philosophy of the eternal, cyclical nature of life. Egypt contained countless festivals across the year such as :
The God’s Birthday Parties (the Epagomenae):
This festival celebrated the superadded days at the end of the year. Those five days brought the calendar to 365 days and in each day a specific god is celebrated. According to the myth of creation, The goddess of the sky Nut daughter of Ra got pregnant by her brother Geb the earth god which angered him and declared she will not give birth on any day of the year, which made the God of Knowledge play a game of Senet with Khonsu and win five day’s worth of moonlight which nut gave birth in. The first day was the birth of Osiris, the Lord of the Duat (the Egyptian underworld), The second day was the birth of Horus, a very prominent falcon-headed deity associated with kingship and the sky, The third day celebrated Seth, a god associated with chaos, war and the deserts of Egypt, The fourth and fifth days celebrated the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, two sisters who were associated with protective funerary rites and who brought the god Osiris back from the dead.
The Festival of Opet
Opet festival took place in Akhet during the second month, it is the most important festival in Egyptian history and the longest celebration in the Theban festival calendar as it stretched across 11 to 15 or even 20 days. In the festival, the king was rejuvenated by god Amun at Thebes. The festival would start by the Theban Triad (Amun, Mut, and Khonsu) would travel from the Karnak temple to the temple of Luxor. In Luxor temple, Amun-Re of Karnak would unite with Amun of Luxor and ensure the re-creation of the cosmos each year. The pharaoh was also part of this union and participated in the regeneration of this divine power.
Egyptians New Year Day (Wepet-Renpet Festival):
This festival celebrates the beginning of the new year when the star Sothis (Sirius) disappears from the sky then appears at the eastern horizon at the sunrise. It also celebrated the death and rebirth of Osiris and the rejuvenation and rebirth of the land and the people. The festival depended on the inundation of the Nile river.
The Festival of the Valley (Wadi Festival):
The beautiful feast of the valley honors the souls of the deceased A.K.A festival of the dead which took place between the harvest Shemu and the Nile flooding Akhet. It celebrated the strong bond between the living and the dead and was a way to bring the past into the present and with the help of the eternal godson into the future. The festival is famous for being the most popular in the history of Egypt as the procession begins with the statues of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu (the Theban Triad) being taken from their temples to visit the mortuary temples and necropolis across the river, plus images of the deceased being carried so their souls could join them and the living would bring flowers, food, drink offerings similar to the day of the dead in Mexico.
Sed Festival (Jubilee Festival)
This festival is a highly specialized one as it is celebrated by the king every thirty years of the king’s reign in order to ensure he is in complete harmony with the will of the gods. the king is also required to run around an enclosed space to prove he was fit and would shot fire arrows towards the four cardinal directions as a symbol of his power over the land and his ability to conquer other nations and increase Egypt’s influence, wealth and might.
The festivals elevated the people toward the divine, bring the present with the past and pave the way for the future or simply times where people could relax and enjoy themselves.
You have the chance to explore the history of ancient Egyptian by visiting the stunning temples, tombs, Pyramids, and attractions accompanied by Egyptologist tour guide. Travel to Egypt and enjoy a Nile river cruise experience along the Nile valley to discover what Egypt has to offer.