As the world celebrates the New Year, we felt it would be interesting to see how different cultures from different times came together to celebrate this festive occasion, and how it changed over time. One culture whose response to the new year was the Ancient Egyptians.
In Ancient Egypt, the New Year was marked by the flooding of the Nile river. This was commemorated by a festival known as “Wepet Renpet”, which literally translates to “The Opening of the Year”. The flooding of the Nile would coincide with a heavenly cycle as well. This event was the reappearance of the star Sirius. In July, priests would watch for the reappearance of the star Sirius after a 70-day absence from view. The star’s return heralded the coming flood and reset the calendar for a new year.
This festival also celebrated the death and rebirth of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, and as such marked the rebirth of the land and the people of Egypt.
The festival often lasted for days on end, and festivities included singing, dancing, feasting, drinking, and rituals related to the death and birth of the god Osiris. The rituals also observed singing, dancing and poetry. A particular poem known as The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys was recited at the beginning to call Osiris to his feast
Ancient Egypt is among one of the most fascinating ancient cultures the world currently has any record of. The lore behind the entire civilization is nothing short of captivating: almost like a fairy tale one can fully immerse themselves in. Part of what makes it so fascinating is how much we know about it; the records of life during that time period and how that society was so similar, as well as different from our own today, is a significant fraction of why Ancient Egypt is, even today, known as the “Cradle of Civilization.”