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Proverbs of the Coptic Months

In the Coptic Calendar, which finds its roots in the ancient Egyptian calendar in use as early as 4250 B.C., and had been in use in Egypt until as recently as the 18th century, there are 12 months, each consisting of 30 days, with a remainder of 5 or 6 epagomenal days at the end of the year, called in Arabic “el-Nasi,” deriving from “the forgotten.” In keeping with the agricultural nature of common Egyptian life, the Egyptian people invented and passed on idioms characterizing each month — the Egyptian equivalent of “April showers bring May flowers.” In celebration of the Coptic New Year, we have assembled this amusing and instructive chart, providing these monthly idioms as an example of Coptic culture and a window into the self-perception of the Egyptian people!


Happy Coptic New Year!

Ⲛⲟϥⲣⲓ ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲓ ⲙ̀ⲃⲉⲣⲓ

Nofri rombi emwari

Month

Sayings

Transliteration

Translation

Explanation

Ⲑⲱⲟⲩⲧ

Tute

Sept.-Oct.

لا تدع الفرصة تفوت

la tad‘ al forsa tafout

Do not delay the opportunity

This month is when the farmers begin to plant in Egypt.

Ⲡⲁⲟⲡⲓ

Babah

Oct.-Nov.

  1. اقفل البوابة

  2. ان صح زرع بابة يبقي رزق الغلابة

  1. e’fel al-bawaba

  2. en sah zar‘ Babah yeb’a rizq al ghalaba

  1. Close the gate

  2. If the plants of Babah are healthy, this is for the benefit of the poor

The weather becomes colder during this month, and Egyptians begin to prepare for winter.

Ϩⲁⲑⲱⲣ

Hatour

Nov.-Dec.

  1. ​أبو الذهب المنثور

  2. ان فاتك زرع هاتور اصبر لما السنة تدور

  1. abu al-dahab al-manthour

  2. an fatak zar‘ Hatour osbor lama al sana tadour

  1. To which belongs the scattered gold

  2. If you miss the planting of Hatour, you must wait until the year comes round

This is the month of planting the wheat, which is referred to as “gold” because of its color.

Ⲕⲟⲓⲁϩⲕ

Kiahk

Dec.-Jan.

  1. كيهك صباحك مساك

  2. تقوم من فطورك تحضر عشاك

  1. Kiahk sabahak masak

  2. taqoum min fetourak tuhadar ‘ashaq

  1. Kiahk, your morning is followed quickly by night

  2. After breakfast, prepare for dinner

The days are shortest during Kiahk.

Ⲧⲱⲃⲉ

Tubah

Jan.-Feb.

برد طوبة يخلي الشابة كركوبة

bard Tubah yekhalee al-shabba karkouba

The cold of Tubah makes the youth feel old

Tubah is the coldest month of the year.

Ⲙϣⲓⲣ

Amshir

Feb.-Mar.

ياخد الهدوم ويطير

yakhod al-hudoum wa yateer

It blows away the laundry

Amshir is distinguished by strong winds.

Ⲡⲁⲣⲉⲙϩⲁⲧ

Baramhat

Mar.-Apr.

روح الغيط وهات قمحات وعدسات وبصلات

rouh al-gheit wa hat amhat wa ‘adsat wa basalat

Go to the field and bring wheat, lentils, and onions

Baramhat signifies the beginning of the season of gathering.

Ⲡⲁⲣⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ

Baramouda

Apr.-May

في برمودة دق العمودة

fe Baramouda do’ al-‘amouda

In Baramouda, hammer the stake

During Baramouda, the farmers build tents for shade from the sun.

Ⲡⲁϣⲟⲛⲥ

Bashans

May-June

  1. يكنس الغيط كنس

  2. خلي بالك من الشمس

  1. yekness al-gheit kans

  2. khalee balak min al-shams

  1. Sweeps the field

  2. Beware of the sun

Ripened plants are gathered during Bashans.

Ⲡⲁⲱⲛⲉ

Baounah

June-July

حول علي الطحونة

hawell ‘ala al-tahouna

Transfer to the windmill

Baounah is known for its strong heat.

Ⲉⲡⲓⲡ

Abib

July-Aug.

  1. في ابيب تفور مياه النيل وتزيد

  2. شهر العنب والزبيب

  1. fe Abib tefour meyah al-neel wa tzeed

  2. shahr al-‘enab wa al-zebeeb

  1. In Abib, the waters of the Nile rise

  2. The month of grapes and raisins

During Abib, the Nile River begins to overflow.

Ⲙⲉⲥⲱⲣⲏ

Misra

Aug.-Sept.

تفيض المياه وعلي الارض تسري

tafeed al-meyah wa ‘ala al-ard tasree

The waters flow and cover the land

During Misra, the Nile River overflows to cover the fields.


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