Coptic Easter is one of the holiest days on the Coptic Calendar, and it is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox.
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|2021||2 May||Sun||Coptic Easter Sunday|
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|2023||16 Apr||Sun||Coptic Easter Sunday|
|2024||5 May||Sun||Coptic Easter Sunday|
There are 210 days of fasting on the Coptic Calendar, more than for any other Christian tradition. But the 55-day Lenten fast leading up to Easter is the longest Coptic fasting period. It is known as “the Great Fast,” and all animal products, including milk, butter, and cheese, are not to be eaten.
During Passion Week (Holy Week), between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, Coptic Christians pray daily at church and hear messages on the sufferings of Christ. On the Great Friday (Good Friday), all dress in black to mourn the death of Christ and drink vinegar to remember the vinegar offered to Christ as he died on the cross.
On Easter Eve (Holy Saturday), Coptic believers hold an Easter vigil until dawn on Easter Morning. The is known as “the Great Vigil,” and the ceremonies will involve a Resurrection play that centres on both the Resurrection and the Ascension. At the beginning, Heaven’s gates are shown shut tight and the room is kept dark to symbolise humanity’s fall into sin.
But later, the light floods in as Christ is said to have risen, opened Heaven’s gate, and cleansed humanity of sin. At dawn, the traditional greeting, “Christ is risen!” is exchanged with other congregants for the traditional response, “He is risen indeed!”
On Easter Sunday, large family dinners are served to break the long period of fasting. Fish, meat, eggs, cookies, biscuits, and “fatteh,” a dish with rice and other ingredients laid on top of a crispy flatbread, are common cuisine choices. New clothes are also bought and worn as Coptic Christians visit family members and friends at their houses.
Easter Monday is known as “Spring Day,” but in Arabic as “Sham al-Nessim“. Its origins are ancient Egyptian and the day is kept by people throughout the country of various faiths.