Thought to be of Persian origin on the assumption of its traditional use in Iran, the word originally derived from an ancient Egyptian equivalent adopted by the Persians during their occupation of Egypt. It denotes Coptic New Year’s Day, commemorated in the Coptic church liturgy but also celebrated as one of the great popular feasts by the whole Egyptian nation. It falls on 1 Tut (11 September), which is the first month of the Coptic year and takes its name from the Egyptian god Thoth.
In ancient Egypt, it was a day of celebration, ceremonies, and processions in which the golden statuette of Hathor, the goddess of plenty, was taken out of its temple at Dandarah at the break of dawn amid music and chanting to inaugurate the New Year. This same day is still a day of tremendous celebrations among all the people of Egypt. The fourteenth-century Arab historian al-MAQRIZI devoted space in his work to a description of the popular festivities associated with that day in medieval times. Dressed in their best attire, people exchanged visits and fruits of the season, notably dates. The festivities continued throughout the night, and the populace took to drinking and debauchery until the Mamluk state decided to suppress Nawruz as an approved public holiday in the year 1378-1379. In the church, however, its celebration continued. The Coptic New Year still figures in the Synaxarion as a day of healing by water.
- Daumas, F. La Civilisation de l’Egypte pharaonique. Paris, 1965. Lane, E. W. Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, 2 vols. London, 1842.
- Wassef, Ceres Wissa. Pratiques rituelles et alimentaires des coptes. Cairo, 1971.