Is Easter a Pharaonic feast as they claim?
Is Easter a Pharaonic feast as they claim?
Easter has been a Coptic fest ever since the preaching of Saint Mark to Egypt and his taking Egypt on his side. It is a deep rooted Coptic tradition that pertains to the church. It is not only for the Coptic Church but also celebrated in some other churches. They celebrate the same feast on the same day which is the day following the Resurrection Feast, only with some common traditions with us, we the Copts of Egypt, only under other nominations as the Emmaus Disciples or the start of the Holy Fifty Days Feast.
As for Egypt, it become popular in later times i.e. on the 19th century, then became a national one. They called it Pharaonic in order not to call it Coptic and because the Copts of Egypt are descendant of the Pharos they agreed to this name implicitly. This is because the media and officials in Egypt work hard to erase the Coptic history. They indeed succeeded in erasing the Coptic era of the Egyptian history. In Egypt, you move from the Pharaonic era to the Islamic one, as for the Coptic one, it got locked in and no one will be able to free it from its historic jail so that the Islamic eras may remain intact (from the wrongdoings of the rulers up to the assassinations carried out under the name of Islam). Let us go back to this genuine Coptic feast and talk about some of its aspects and not all of them.
First: the Coptic name is “Tchom ni semi” which is a sentence of two words. The first word means gardens and other plantations. When the two words are combined they refer to gardens and plantations, which mean orchards. This is why Copts go to gardens and orchards on that day. This reflects a lot of things that Copts believe in and they were all taken from the Bible or symbolize something that was mentioned in it. Let us talk first about the people’s going to gardens, orchards, as well as the shores of the rivers, seas, lakes or even canals. They go to any place where there is water, greenery, and flowers and which can be used for their spending the day, why? The answer comes from within the Bible.
1- The resurrection of Jesus Christ, may He be glorified, was in an orchard because the grave had been engraved in a stone that was inside an orchard.
2-When Jesus Christ appeared for the first time after His resurrection, it was to Mary Magdalene and this was in an orchard and that is why Mary thought He was the gardener.
3- He then appeared to the Emmaus Disciples while they were travelling through fields and He walked with them without them knowing Him.
4-He appeared to the disciples on the coast of Tiberius Sea more than once and told them to guard His sheep. This is why the Copts go to these places because Jesus Christ, may He be glorified, appeared after His resurrection in these places. They accordingly meet in spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ the conqueror of death.
Second: we now come to the traditions we received from our early ancestors… the non-Christians may wonder why the Copts insist on eating colored eggs, salted fish (fesikh), and onions?
1- Let us start with the colored eggs and what they symbolize. The egg is well sealed and contains a living creature. When it comes out, it comes out on its own without needing someone to get it out or open the door to it. It makes its way with its small beak through the thick wall of the egg and comes out without any parts of the shell that sheltered it sticking to it. This signifies that Christ who had been dead inside the grave had been alive (His theology never left His humanity not for one moment or the blink of an eye) in spite of the closed grave which was well sealed and the stone which blocked the entrance that was sealed with two seals; the seal of Pilates the ruler and the other was that of Caiaphas the supreme pontiff and in spite of the guards standing outside the grave … in spite of all this, inside the grave was a living creature (for with death He stepped on death).
Eggs symbolize the grave and the life that was inside the grave. This is against nature for since the beginning of creation, there had never been a grave with a life inside of it except for the grave of the Creator alone Jesus Christ. Now let us talk about the coloring of the eggs in Easter. We find the whole family busy coloring the eggs in Easter’s eve with all colors such as red, green, and yellow. This gives men the impression that he is inside a garden so they are a symbol in two ways! They show that the grave contained a life and it was inside an orchard or that the man who is coloring is the one who became inside an orchard, surrounded by flowers and by lively colors from all around. They give us the impression that we are now inside an orchard besides the grave which used to symbolize death for us. It now has changed and now there is life inside the grave. Death has now acquired a taste, color, and a new color. Death is no longer scary for the souls. After Jesus Christ’s resurrection, death has become a sacred desire, looked forward to by the saints and pure ones.
2-Now comes the turn of the salted fish (what the Egyptians call fesikh). Normally, when we speak of fesikh or salted fish, we should first discuss fish in general. Fish was the only food mentioned in the Bible which was eaten by Jesus Christ along with honey after His resurrection. Also there is Jesus Christ’s miracles (five loaves and two fish … also the four loaves and a small amount of small fish which were blessed by Master Christ and the crowds ate and lots of food remained). The Lord’s first miracle with His disciples also was about fishing. Also, His last miracle for them was about fishing … fish therefore symbolizes a lot of things in our Christian life. Also Jesus Christ chose most of His disciples from amongst fishermen.
Let us go back to the fish we eat in Easter and its connotations. From the times when Christianity first spread, they used to eat fish that had been grilled on coal like the time when Lord Christ, may He be glorified ate with His disciple. This was when He appeared to them on the coast of Tiberius Sea (so Jesus told them now present the fish you just caught – John 21:11). Also Copts in Egypt used to try to overcome the hard times so at the time of the Fatimid era, the selling of fish on that day had been banned. Fishermen were instructed not to go fishing so that the Copts may not rejoice and especially the poor ones who were unable to pay the jizyah and converted to Islam. They were then unable to celebrate the Resurrection Day on the feast’s night or day. They used to celebrate Easter (the breeze of the new life given to us by the Lord after He became the first one to rise). The Copts overcame this issue later on and preserved the fish with salt a long period before that day for the Easter Day. The Copts held on to this salted fish even after the persecution days so as not to forget what God did for them and how He ended their persecution days, the same as they did in their lives up till now.
If some reject this true story as told by history and because history leaves nothing without documenting it meticulously. Whatever what the power of those who wish to erase the history, history does not know fear and tells the story no matter what a long time passes by without it being beaten by anyone. The fathers of the church explained to us the reason behind the insistence to eat salted fish so that that Copts may not resent the persecution days and this was the explanation for eating fesikh on this feast.
Fesikh is a fish with salt added to it to preserve it from becoming rotten or decayed. It also needs a sealed container to preserve it before it is eaten. It does not need to be cooked before it is eatable. Salt symbolizes Christ’s theology which preserved His body with which it took one nature (the theology never left the humanity not for one moment or the blink of an eye). This is why the Lord may He be glorified called us the salt of the earth because the Holy Spirit lives inside us. He who keeps the Holy Spirit inside of him, his body shall not perish. This is what we see with our eyes and touch with our hands in the saints whose bodies remained intact. The fesikh symbolizes Christ in His death and refers to the dead Christ who had been put in the grave and remained intact.
3-Now comes the turn of green onions which refers also to the crucifixion, death, grave and life. An onion grows inside the soil and does not live except through its burial. It is buried under the soil and not on top of it. It is buried but alive and declares is life through is green leaves which appear from the surface of the earth. This is a symbol of the grave where the Lord Christ was buried and put away from us but still alive and moving … He indeed had been buried inside the grave but He was alive and death could not defeat Him. When mature, it comes out of the earth without needing anyone to bring it out and we then see it with our eyes.
Onions also have an important aspect that belongs only to them. It can keep itself from corruption as the Lord Christ kept Himself from the corruption of the sin. When we eat it, we strip the onion sheet by sheet. We take way the layer with the dark red color until we reach the white inside. This is what they did to the Lord as He had been wearing a dark red robe before the cross and they stripped Him so that He may present His body and blood for us on the cross. I think that is enough talking about the symbolism of onions in Easter.
As for what made of this Coptic Feast of the church a national and patriotic feast and sometimes Pharaonic:
This makes us ask whoever calls it a Pharaonic feast … if it were Pharaonic, it would have come on the same day of every year for the Pharaonic year, which is almost the same as the Coptic year, is a stable year and does not change. Easter is a feast whose date keeps changing for it is related to the great Resurrection Day which is determined every year according to the Jewish Passover feast. This is because Lord Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples because before presenting His body on the cross, the Master presented it to His disciples in Zion. If it were a national or patriotic feast, how come it only comes the next day after the Resurrection Day? If it were that way, then how come it is celebrated by the Christian countries or the countries where Christianity is the first religion? The name of Easter Monday is well known in the United States, Canada, England, Australia and others; they color the eggs and eat fish although they are neither Pharos nor patriots. As for Greece and most European countries, they have the same traditions which are the colored eggs and fish, in addition to only the fact that each house must bring a chick as a symbol of the life which came out of the closed grave like the colored egg.
Despite of all of this, they insolently call it Pharaonic. Are Europeans also from Pharaonic origins and are they celebrating the feast of their ancestors, or are they patriotic people from Egyptian origins, commemorating a national Egyptian feast in their western countries?????
It is not a Pharaonic feast but a Coptic one that started being celebrated in Egypt after Saint Mark spread Christianity in it, i.e. during the Coptic era which the Islamic invasion wishes to erase. History however is quite alert as the Copts, who had converted to Islam due to the threat of the sword, the killings and torture, had succeeded in celebrating; with their folks who had paid the jizyah to the invaders, the feast of their savior, his crucifixion, death and resurrection from the death. They even managed to make all the Muslims celebrate the resurrection of the Lord from the dead.