|Fourth Month of Low Water|
|Opening of the Year[b]|
|Birth of the Sun|
In ancient Egypt, the months were variously described. Usually, the months of the lunar calendar were listed by their placement in the seasons related to the flooding of the Nile, so that Mesori is most commonly described as the fourth month of the season of the Harvest (4 Šmw), variously transliterated as IV Shemu or Shomu. These lunar months were also named after their most important feasts, so that Mesori was also known as the "Opening" or "Opener of the Year" (Wp Rnpt) or Wep Renpet.[c] The month was also personified as the deity of its festival, which in late sources is given as Ra-Horakhty (Rꜥ Ḥr Ꜣḫty, "Ra–Horus of the Horizons").
The solar civil calendar borrowed the festivals of the earlier lunar calendar, though sometimes under other names. These festival names are increasingly attested after Egypt's Persian occupation. The most common name continued to be the "Opening of the Year", although its little-attested synonym "Birth of the Sun" (Mswt Rꜥ) or Masut Ra became the namesake of the Ptolemaic Greek and Coptic month.[d]
Until the 4th century BC, the beginning of the months of the lunar calendar were based on observation, beginning at dawn on the morning when a waning crescent moon could no longer be seen. The intercalary month was added every few years as needed to maintain the heliacal rising of Sirius within the month. According to the civil calendar, the month fell in order with the rest regardless of the state of the moon. It always consisted of 30 days, each individually named and devoted to a particular patron deity, and was always followed by an intercalary month, although it slowly cycled relative to the solar year and Gregorian date owing to the lack of leap days until the Ptolemaic and Roman eras.
Torches were ritually carried on the 28th day of the month in preparation for the spiritual danger of the intercalary month that followed.
New Year's Eve (Msy or Msyt) was observed on the 30th day of the month.
Once the holidays were transferred to the civil calendar, Wep Renpet proper was celebrated on the first day of Thoth by at least the Middle Kingdom, though the last month of the year continued to bear its name. The holiday honored the birth and youth of the personification of the sun and its fight against evil. Royal artisans were freed from work,[e] temples lit torches to banish darkness and its demons, spells concerning the crushing of enemies were cast, and ritual combat occurred during a "water procession" on temple lakes. People threw ink into water, cleansed themselves, and painted their eyes green. It was a common occasion for pharaonic coronations during the Middle Kingdom and the occasion of ceremonies of renewed kingship in other eras, occasioning his officials to present him with new year's gifts. This practice extended to commoners presenting gifts—such as rings, scarabs, and bottles inscribed "Happy New Year's" (Wpt Rnpt Nfrt)—to one another during the Saite Period.
In the present-day Coptic calendar, Mesori has fallen between August 7 and September 5 since AD 1900 (AM 1616) and will continue to do so until AD 2100 (AM 1816). In that year, the Gregorian calendar's lack of a leap day will cause the Coptic month to advance another day relative to it and it will run from August 8 to September 6. The Coptic liturgical calendar of the month consists of:
In the present-day Ethiopian calendar, Nahase is identical to the Coptic month of Mesori, falling between August 7 and September 5. It will also shift forward one day relative to the Gregorian calendar in AD 2100 (2092 EC).
- For variant hieroglyphic spellings of Šmw, see Season of the Harvest.
- Alternative representations of the Opening of the Year include
- The confusion arising over the same name applying to the Egyptian New Year and the celebration of the king's birthday is known as the "Brugsch Phenomenon" after its 1870 description by Heinrich Brugsch.
- Owing to its influence, the minimal attestation for Mswt Rꜥ in the hieroglyphic record is thought to be an accident of survival. The "Birth of Ra–Horakhty" (Mswt Rꜥ Ḥr Ꜣḫty) is attested by the 20th Dynasty, but only as a synonym for the New Year's Day festival and not as a month name. A single source from the 20th Dynasty refers to the fourth month of the season of the Harvest as the "Month of the Going Forth of Horus" (Pꜣ Šmt n Ḥr).
- This official vacation sometimes began as early as Mesori 25, 28, or 29.
- Vygus, Mark (2015), Middle Egyptian Dictionary (PDF).
- Parker (1950), p. 41.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 67.
- Parker (1950), p. 45.
- Parker (1950), pp. 31 & 43.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 74.
- Parker (1950), p. 33.
- Depuydt (1997), p. 61.
- Parker (1950), p. 43.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 76.
- Depuydt (1997), p. 81.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 83.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 82.
- Gabra (2008).
- Wassef, Medhat R., "The Coptic Calendar of Martyrs", Coptic Orthodox Church Network, Jersey City: St Mark Coptic Church, retrieved 5 February 2017.
- "Ethiopian Calendar", Selamta, 2015.
- Shinn & al. (2013).
- Mebratu, Belete K. (2009), "Ethiopian Calendar", Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, Vol. I, Los Angeles: Sage, p. 128.
- Parker (1950), p. 29.
- Parker (1950), p. 23.
- Parker (1950), p. 32.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 78.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 79.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 80.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 81.
- Jauhiainen (2009), p. 77.
- Reingold, Edward M.; et al. (2002), Calendrical Tabulations, 1900–2200, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 2.
- Reingold & al. (2002), p. 402. sfnp error: no target: CITEREFReingold_&_al.2002 (help)
- Von Staufer, Maria Hubert (2002), "Christmas in Egypt", The Christmas Archives.
- "12) Mesra Month", Coptic Synaxarium, Alexandria: St Takla Haymanout, retrieved 6 February 2017.
- "Ethiopian Calendar", Official site, Tesfa Community Treks, retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Gabra, Gawdat (2008), "Coptic Calendar", The A to Z of the Coptic Church, A to Z Guide Series, No. 107, Plymouth: The Scarecrow Press, pp. 70–1.
- Depuydt, Leo (1997), Civil Calendar and Lunar Calendar in Ancient Egypt, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, No. 77, Leuven: Peeters.
- Jauhiainen, Heidi (2009), Do Not Celebrate Your Feast without Your Neighbors: A Study of References to Feasts and Festivals in Non-Literary Documents from Ramesside Period Deir el-Medina (PDF), Publications of the Institute for Asian and African Studies, No. 10, Helsinki: University of Helsinki.
- Parker, Richard A. (1950), The Calendars of Ancient Egypt (PDF), Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, No. 26, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Shinn, David H.; et al. (2013), "Calendar", Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia, Plymouth: Scarecrow Press, p. 91.