The Coptic New Year is the very first calendar ever known by man on planet earth! It goes back 4241 BC.The word “Nayrouz” is of Coptic origin. The stem is niiaro-oo meaning: “the rivers.” The suffex “ouz” is Greek, thus, the word “Niiaroouz.” Mid September is usually where the waters of the Nile river rises, so the prayers are lifted to God for the rising of the waters of the rivers for irrigation and ask for His blessings at the beginning (crown) of the Coptic Calendar year. When the Persian ruled Egypt from 525-405 BC, they adopted the word and incorporated it in their language and took it to mean “the beginning of their Persian year,” and called it “Nayrouz.” The word “Nayrouz” in Persian, means “the new year.” On celebrating this feast three things are stirred in our minds. – Honoring the millions of martyrs who sacrificed their lives as sacrifices of love for our Lord who sacrificed Himself on our behalf. – Joyfully celebrating the beginning of the Coptic New Year. – Expressing of our flamed eager for the last advent of Christ. Through the last two weeks before the feast the readings of the liturgies of the Eucharist concentrate of the Parousia of Christ.
Through the celebration of the Feast of Nayrouz, we start a new Coptic year. At the same time we declare our eagerness to share with the martyrs, a new Day which they attain in Paradise. They have the experience of brightness, through which the brightness of the glory of Christ shines on them; they have no need of a sun nor a moon. There is no room for various seasons, nor of night and day. They are not in need of food.
In the Feast of El-Nayrouz we;
- are longing for the eternal life.
- behold the opened gates of Paradise.
- see our Christ coming to carry us on the clouds, together with those who already entered the Paradise.
All of us will enjoy the divine throne in heaven. O Lord, grant us to celebrate El-Nayrouz, So that we may ask for a blessed year for all mankind. And that every believer has the experience of Your marvelous Day. Thus, all will enjoy the brightness of Your glory. Yes, Come quickly O Lord Jesus. Our hearts are enflamed with Your love. Our hearts ask for none except You. Let me, O God, celebrate the Feast of El-Nayrouz unceasingly.
The Copts used the word Nayrouz to denote the start of the Coptic Year. Historians and Christian writers dating back to the 5th Century AD have documented the great persecutions which Christians faced from the pagans following the Jewish persecutions. From the dawn of Christianity until the 4th Century AD, Christians have faced persecution after persecution until paganism represented in the Roman Empire finally raised the banner of the Cross.
The aim of the long persecutions was to wipe out Christianity and its followers. However what happened had the opposite effect of purifying it and revealing its most magnificent virtues. It was the example set by its heroes that lead to Christianity spreading even more and lead to many pagans entering the Christian faith. Tertullian – a man who witnessed these persecutions first hand and never saw their end wrote, “The blood of the martyrs are the seeds of the church”.
The historians record ten great periods of persecution perpetrated by the pagan emperors of the Roman Empire against the Christians. They were during the periods of Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Maximinus, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, and Diocletian.
The tenth and last persecution instigated by Emperor Diocletian was considered the most brutal persecution the Christians ever faced, and in which the most martyrs died. Given this momentous event and so as never to forget the sacrifice of those martyrs, the Coptic Orthodox Church decided to start the Coptic Year from the year Emperor Diocletian came to the throne in 284AD. The calendar became known as the calendar of the martyrs (Abbreviated to AM – meaning ‘according to the martyrs’). So the Feast of the Nayrouz became synonymous with the feast and the commemoration of the martyrs.
Adapted article from St-Takla.org