Sham Ennessim

Sham Ennessim (Arabic: شم النسيم‎, Sham Al Nassim or Sham an-Nassim; Egyptian Arabic: Sham Ennesim, IPA: [ˈʃæmm ennɪˈsiːm]; Coptic: ϣⲱⲙ ⲛ̀ⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ, Shom Ennisim[1]) is an Egyptian national holiday marking the beginning of spring. It always falls on Easter Monday, the day after Easter.

Sham Ennessim
Official nameشم النسيم Sham an-Nassim
Observed byEgyptians
TypeCultural, seasonal, and agricultural
DateThe day after Eastern Christian Easter
Related toPharo’s time

The holiday is celebrated by both Muslim Egyptians and Christian Egyptians alike, it is considered a national festival in Egypt, whose history goes back to ancient Egyptian times. The main features of the festival are:

  • People spend all day out picnicking in any space of green, public gardens, on the Nile, or at the zoo.
  • Traditional food eaten on this day consists mainly of fesikh (a fermented, salted and dried grey mullet), lettuce, scallions or green onions, and termes.
  • Coloring boiled eggs, then eating and gifting them.


According to annals written by Plutarch during the 1st century AD, the Ancient Egyptians used to offer salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their deities during the spring festival known as Shemu.[2]

After the Christianization of Egypt, the festival became associated with the other Christian spring festival, Easter. Over time, Shemu morphed into its current form and its current date. The date of Easter, and therefore of Easter Monday, is determined according to the Eastern Christian manner of calculation as used by the Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Christian denomination in the country, and by the time of the Islamic conquest of Egypt, the holiday was settled on Easter Monday. The Islamic calendar being lunar and thus unfixed relative to the solar year, the date of Sham Ennessim remained on the Christian-linked date. As Egypt became Arabized, the term Shemu found a rough phono-semantic match in Sham el-Nessim, or "Smelling/Taking In the Zephyrs,"[citation needed] which fairly accurately represents the way in which the holiday is celebrated.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Crum, Walter Ewing (1939). A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 564b&334a. ISBN 0-19-864404-3.
  2. ^ Al Ahram Weekly Archived 2010-10-10 at the Wayback Machine