A Paper on the Impossibility of Moving Coptic Feasts – dr Fady Nabih Kamel

Updated: 16 October 2019

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A Paper on the Impossibility of Moving Coptic Feasts.

† One of the servants of the Coptic Church would hereby like to present a research to elaborate on the impracticality of changing the dates of the Coptic calendar, and more generally Coptic feasts and other occasions. The writer obtained motivation to conduct this research from a respected deacon, Dr Bishoy Fr Raphael of Alexandria, who served as an unrelenting encouragement for this work. The writer’s focus stems from another piece of work titled “Critical Appraisal on Fr Youhanna Nassif – Correcting the Coptic Calendar and Adjusting the Date of the Feast of Nativity” (Baramhat 1735 AM – March 2019 AD). In this discussion, the writer will concentrate on the three major Lordly feasts, as they have a direct impact on the rest of the Coptic calendar, especially the feast of Resurrection.

  • The feast of Resurrection and the apokty calculation:

† The apokty calculation (also known as the Alexandrian computus) was established by Anba Demetrius the Vinedresser, the twelfth patriarch on the See of St. Mark, relying upon contemporaneous astronomical sciences and an Egyptian scientist by the name of Ptolemy Elfaramawy at the time. The apokty calculation was formed for the purpose of determining the feast of Resurrection as it is linked to the Jewish Passover. It was not until the council of Nicaea in the year 325 AD that the rules were laid down for the unification of the date of celebrating the feast of Resurrection (Easter) , based on 3 conditions, which in short are: (1) for the feast to come on a Sunday, (2) following the vernal equinox (set to be on the 25th of Baramhat (i. e. 21st of March in the old style Julian calendar)) , and (3) after the 14th of Nisan (fourteenth day of the first month in the Hebrew calendar). The following is the calculation formula for determining the day of the slaughter of the Passover lamb, adapted from “Altaqweem wa Hesab Alaboqty” (translated: ‟The Calendar and the Apokty Calculation”) by Mr Rushdi Wassef Behman (1990):

  • (x – 1) mod 19 [(where x is the year AM) — remainder is taken as the golden number “y”].
  • y * 11 = z mod 30 — i. e. (multiples of) 30 is then subtracted from “z” giving “a” taken as the lunar epact.
  • 40 – a = v — [where “v” is the day of the slaughtering of the Passover lamb {if the value of “v” lies between 1 and 23, then the date falls in the month Baramouda; if “v” is between 25 and 30, the date then falls in the month of Baramhat; “v” is never equal to 24}].
  • The Sunday following such a date in step 3 is set to be the feast of Resurrection.

† As the Metonic cycle spans over a 19 – year period of 235 months (6939 – 6940 days) , the average metonic year is calculated to consist of 365 + 1 / 4 + 1 / 76 days. That means that it is closer to the mean Coptic year (or old style Julian year) , whose average is calculated to consist of 365 + 1 / 4 days, than it is to the mean Gregorian year, whose average is calculated as 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes and 12 seconds. Indeed, that serves as a major reason why the apokty calculation was superior to the computus calculation that had developed a few centuries afterwards. Historically, after the establishment of the rules of the feast of Resurrection (Easter) at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the apokty calculation was adopted by the eastern Roman Empire shortly after 380 AD. After the conversion of the Alexandrian computus to fit the Julian calendar, by Dionysius Exiguus, Rome accepted it sometime between the sixth and ninth centuries. The British Isles accepted it during the eighth century except for a few monasteries. Francia (all of Western Europe except Scandinavia (pagan) , the British Isles, the Iberian peninsula, and southern Italy) accepted it during the last quarter of the eighth century. The last Celtic monastery to accept it, Iona, did so in 716 AD, whereas the last English monastery to accept it did so in 931 AD. Before these dates, other methods produced Easter Sunday dates that could differ by up to five weeks. It is worthwhile mentioning that prior to adopting the equivalent of the Alexandrian apokty calculation, the old computus used by the Western Church considered the vernal equinox to be the 25th of March (Lady Day – which would have been the true date only in the first century, before gradually moving to earlier dates).

† It is therefore clear that the vernal equinox date in the Coptic year (as well as the old style Julian calendar year) moves out of synchrony with the Gregorian calendar, when leap days are dropped every so often in the latter. As a result, the dates of Coptic major feasts, as well as other events, are not affected by changes to the Gregorian calendar system, but would move together (that includes the Nativity feast, feast of Circumcision, Theophany feast, feast of Resurrection, apostles’ fast and feast, and all saints’ commemoration days). That serves as the biggest factor in the stability of the Coptic calendar, and the dates of feasts contained therein, as all such dates are calculated irrespectively of the Western calendar (either old style Julian, and / or new style Gregorian). Please note that the Coptic calendar dates have never moved or changed at any point, or period of time.

† Based on the above, the Coptic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate the feast of Resurrection on a different date to the Western Church, by virtue of the latter using the Gregorian calendar (and a reformed computus calculation). The figure below that the writer adapted from Wikipaedia. org highlights the relationship between the feast of Resurrection celebration determined by the Coptic Church and the Jewish Passover, in comparison to the Western Easter celebration.

A Paper on the Impossibility of Moving Coptic Feasts - dr Fady Nabih Kamel 1

Figure 1 – equinoxes: yellow circles; Western Easter dates: blue closed circles; full moons: closed grey circles; Eastern Easter dates: orange open circles. Edited legend – black closed hexagons: 1st day of Passover before / after the full moon; black open hexagons: 1st day of Passover on the day of the full moon.

From such a figure, it is clear that through using the apokty calculation, the feast of Resurrection had never fallen on the same day, or before the 14th of Nisan. However, Easter celebration in the Western Church fell in such pitfalls in the AD years of 1951, 1954, 1959, 1967, 1970, 1978, 1981, 1986, 1989, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2016, and will continue falling in those pitfalls in the AD years of 2024, 2027, 2035, 2043, and 2046. Also worthwhile adding that it was the scientist Clavius who explained the methodology of the reformed computus introduced alongside the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 AD. One flaw of the computus reform is that it fails to accommodate for the insertion of leap months in the Jewish calendar year at least three times in each Metonic cycle if not more, unlike the apokty calculation (leap months commonly fall after the vernal equinox).

† The writer found documentation to a claim made by the Catholic Church that while adjusting the Western calendar in what is known as Gregorian calendar reform, they stated that the adjustment restored the celebration of Easter according to the rules fixed by the great ecumenical council of Nicaea. Indeed, some flaws have been documented through the usage of the Gregorian calendar with regards its lunar calculation, such as (1) lunations (i. e. lunar months) of 31 and sometimes 28 days occur, although lunar calendar months do alternate between 29 and 30 days only; (2) through usage of the original Gregorian epact table, days of new moons are frequently missed; (3) lunations of 1 day occur repeatedly; (4) if Gregorian calendar rules are strictly followed new moons would occur as 1 day, 28, 58, and 59 days apart.

† It is worthwhile mentioning that epacts in the Gregorian calendar are fractions of a lunation, and not actually full days (as opposed to the apokty calculation). Another question raised is why the Gregorian lunar calendar system has separate solar and lunar corrections, which sometimes cancel each other. Lilius' original work has not been preserved and Clavius does not explain this. However Lilius did say that the correction system he devised was to be a perfectly flexible tool in the hands of future calendar reformers, since the solar and lunar calendar could henceforth be corrected without mutual interference. If the corrections are combined, then the inaccuracies of the two cycles are also added and cannot be corrected separately. The "solar corrections" approximately undo the effect of the Gregorian modifications to the leap days of the solar calendar on the lunar calendar: they (partially) bring the epact cycle back to the original Metonic relation between the Julian year and lunar month. The inherent mismatch between sun and moon in this basic 19 year cycle is then corrected every three or four centuries by the "lunar correction" to the epacts. However, the epact corrections occur at the beginning of Gregorian centuries, not Julian centuries, and therefore the original Julian Metonic cycle is not fully restored. The ratios of (mean solar) days per year and days per lunation change both because of intrinsic long – term variations in the orbits, and because the rotation of the earth is slowing down due to tidal deceleration, so the Gregorian parameters become increasingly obsolete. This does affect the date of the equinox, but it so happens that the interval between northward (northern hemisphere spring) equinoxes has been fairly stable over historical times, especially if measured in mean solar time.

† The writer needed to have mentioned the above paragraph in particular, in order to comment on the proposals made by some individuals in the Coptic Church and her Western counterpart, by fixing the date of the feast of Resurrection (Easter) to the second Sunday in April. It should be clear now that the Gregorian calendar system miscalculates the true full moon, on which the slaughtering of the lamb, and the Jewish Passover dates are determined. It is therefore an inferior calendar in regards to the determination of the feast of Resurrection with accuracy, compared to the Coptic Church’s apokty calculation. Such a suggestion of fixing the date of Easter to the second Sunday in April would inevitably mean the contravention of the Council of Nicaea canons, in relation to the lack of knowledge, which the forefathers warned against. The resulting dates would both make (a) the occurrence of two feasts of Resurrection in one lunisolar year commonplace, and (b) Easter fall on, or before the day of the 14th of Nisan. For example, in the next 30 years, such contraventions will occur in the AD years 2021 – 2022, 2023 – 2024, 2025, 2026 – 2027, 2028, 2029 – 2030, 2032 – 2033, 2034 – 2035, 2037 – 2038, 2040 – 2041, 2042 – 2043, 2044, 2045 – 2046, 2048 – 2049. Please refer to the figure below adapted from Wikipaedia. org, whereby the writer extrapolates the projections of suggested Easter celebration dates.

A Paper on the Impossibility of Moving Coptic Feasts - dr Fady Nabih Kamel 2

Figure 2 – equinoxes: yellow circles; Western Easter dates: blue closed circles; full moons: closed grey circles; Eastern Easter dates: orange open circles. Edited legend – black closed hexagons: 1st day of Passover before / after the full moon; black open hexagons: 1st day of Passover on the day of the full moon; red rhombuses: proposed Easter dates on 2nd Sundays in April.

† It is therefore obvious that by applying such changes, the Coptic Church will not only lose its leadership role in determining the feast of the Resurrection, as delegated by all other churches worldwide, but would also see other denominations being revered by God’s Holy Light in the church of the sepulchre in Jerusalem, while she isn’t. Moreover, the apokty calculation introduced by Egyptian scientists and Coptic forefathers would become of no use for the Coptic Church; that is of course in addition to the meaninglessness of the canons of the Council of Nicaea. One can therefore say that the losses to the Coptic Church will not only be spiritual, but also moral, historical, hierarchical, and scientific.

† Other important points adding to the flaws in adopting such a proposition could be emphasised in this paragraph as follows: ( * ) firstly, as the earliest Gregorian Easter date would be the 8th of April, and the latest the 14th of April, the feast of Annunciation, a major Lordly feast in the Coptic Church, falling on the 29th of Baramhat, 7th of April new style Gregorian, will cease to be celebrated – it will invariably fall between Palm Sunday and Bright Saturday; ( * ) secondly, the start of the Great Lent will fall between Gregorian dates of 12th and 19th of February (noting leap years) , and consequently, Jonah’s fast would fall between 29th of January (commemoration of the dormition of St Mary – 21st of Tubah) and 8th of February – this means that after one millennium the third day of the feast of Theophany, a major Lordly feast, wherein also is the celebration of the wedding of Cana of Galilee, a minor Lordly feast, will coincide with the first day of Jonah’s fast; ( * ) thirdly, the length of the apostles fast will vary between 45 and 51 days (i. e. it will always be longer than the Nativity fast).

  • The feast of Annunciation:

† The date of the feast of Annunciation was set to be the 25th of March around the third or fourth centuries AD. The rationale was for it to fall 9 months before the feast of Nativity (Christmas) , as early Christians believed that the incarnation (new creation in Christ) must have taken place on the vernal equinox (in the first century BC, the vernal equinox fell on the 25th of March old style Julian calendar) , to mean the redemption of His creation that ought to have taken place on the same day. There is an interesting point here: some Western churches usually move the feast if necessary to prevent it from falling during Holy Week or Easter Week or on a Sunday on the liturgical calendars. To avoid a Sunday before the holy week, the next day (26th of March) would be observed instead. In years such as 2016 when the 25th of March fell within the holy week or Easter week, the Annunciation was moved to the Monday after the Octave of Easter, i. e. the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter; in other words after the eighth day. The interesting part is that Christmas would not be moved in those years, and that means that the time from conception to the celebration of the birth of Christ becomes less than 9 months (i. e. inconsistent). This is, however, not the case with other Eastern churches, whereby the feast is never moved under any circumstances, and they have special combined liturgies for when the feast falls on days of other occasions, even on Good Friday, when a liturgy would be celebrated then. For that reason, there are accusations that with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar some churches are unable to replicate the traditions of their past, because the feast of Annunciation is celebrated according to the new style Gregorian calendar, while Easter according to the old style Julian calendar. They therefore argue that such an adoption of the new calendar system has impoverished the liturgical and spiritual life of the Church.

† Moreover, some ancient martyrologies assign to the 25th of March not only the creation of Adam and the crucifixion of Jesus, but also, the fall of Lucifer, the passing of Israel through the Red Sea and the immolation of Isaac. There are some resources pointing out to such a date falling on the 14th of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, and hence arguing that it should also reflect the day of the Crucifixion. In the Coptic Church synaxarium, however, the 29th of Baramhat (i. e. the 25th of March old style Julian calendar, 7th of April new style Gregorian) coincides with the Resurrection of the Lord, not His death. The Coptic Church signifies that the worldly incarnation (i. e. humanly conception into the Virgin’s womb on earth) must simulate the heavenly resurrection (and the raising of saints’ spirits from hades into paradise). The Crucifixion is therefore celebrated on the 27th of Baramhat in the Coptic synaxarium (the 23rd of March old style Julian calendar; 5th of April new style Gregorian). Please note that the writer suspects that such dates were arbitrarily decided upon, whether in the East, or the West, as the feast of Annunciation was not celebrated until the third or fourth century (and in some sources fifth or sixth century). It is also worthwhile mentioning that the Coptic calendar existed only since the third century AD, which points out to the difficulty in deducing the exact date of Crucifixion in any calendar, especially as Josephus documented that the Jews were taken captive in 70 AD after Jerusalem was destroyed.

  • The feast of Nativity:

† The Coptic Church celebrates the feast of Nativity on the 29th of Kiahk (28th of Kiahk after the Coptic leap year) , which corresponds to the 25th of December old style Julian calendar. As the writer alluded to above, such a fixed date continues moving along with the discrepancies between Gregorian centuries and Julian ones, roughly around three times every four centuries. However, the argument that this will predictably result in the feast of Nativity encroaching on Jonah’s fast, and / or the Great Lent is based on a flawed premise. It is noteworthy to mention that all Coptic dates continue moving together, including the vernal equinox, which coincides with the 25th of Baramhat, that is the 21st of March old style Julian calendar, and the 3rd of April new style Gregorian in the 20th and 21st centuries. This therefore means that all the Coptic dates, and feasts will continue moving relative to each other, with no potential of encroachment, except if the apokty calculation is ridden of, and the date of the feast of Resurrection is fixed (either with the application of the new style Gregorian calendar onto the Coptic calendar, or without).

  • The feast of Theophany, and other important occasions:

† Like the feast of Nativity, the feast of Theophany is fixed and is celebrated on the 11th of Tubah every year for three days. This corresponds to the 6th of January old style Julian calendar, and the 19th of January new style Gregorian. Please note that due to the intercalary day being inserted at the end of one Coptic leap year, as opposed to the 29th of February in the Gregorian calendar, the 11th of Tubah corresponds to the 7th of January old style Julian calendar, 20th of January new style Gregorian every four years. In addition to what was discussed above, there is a marked difference between the Coptic Church (as well as the Eastern Church) and the Western Church in the celebratory practice of the feast. The Coptic Church and other Eastern Churches celebrate the baptism of Christ, denoting the manifestation of the Holy Trinity, ending the three days by the feast of Cana of Galilee, wherein Christ reveals His miraculous power to the people. However, it is called the feast of Epiphany, and the Western Church celebrates the visit of the wise men (Magi) that is Christ revealing His incarnation as a little child to the people. Moreover, in recent times the Western Church devoted a different day for the baptism of Christ, being the first Sunday after January the 6th. Lastly, from a linguistic perspective, the word “Epiphany” used in the Western Church denotes “a manifestation”, while the word “Theophany” denotes “divine manifestation”.

† The writer also finds that there is a large number of dates of feasts / occasions whereby the Coptic Church does not agree to with either other Eastern Orthodox Churches or the Western Church. A list of such dates is as follows: -.

  • The birth of Virgin Mary is celebrated on the 1st of Bashons (the 26th of April old style Julian calendar (9th of May new style Gregorian). However, her birth is treated as nativity in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, whereby it is celebrated on September the 8th, which is 9 months after the occasion of solemnity of her immaculate conception on December the 8th – with regards the latter occasion, there is no counterpart in the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  • The assumption of the body of Virgin Mary is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church on the 15th of August (new style Gregorian calendar – 28th of August new style for churches following the 15th of August old style Julian calendar). Interestingly too, that celebration serves as the dormition of the Theotokos in the Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Church. This, therefore, is preceded by a two – week period of what could be described as a “first – degree” fast (i. e. with no fish allowed during such a period apart from weekends) – it is described to be a stricter fast than either the Nativity fast, or the apostles fast. The Catholic doctrine of the assumption covers Mary's bodily movement to heaven, but the dogmatic definition avoids saying whether she was dead or alive at the point. However, it appears that Pope John Paul II stated on the 25th of June 1997, that Virgin Mary experienced natural death prior to her assumption into heaven.
  • This however, is not compatible with the view of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Firstly, the feast of the revelation of the assumption of Virgin Mary takes place on the 16th of Mesra (the 9th of August old style Julian calendar, 22nd of August new style Gregorian calendar). This is preceded by a 15 – day fast, which is considered to be a “second – degree” fast, whereby fish is allowed. Secondly, the dormition and assumption of Virgin Mary is celebrated on the 21st of Tubah (which corresponds to the 29th (30th in a Roman leap year) of January new style, 16th (17th) of January old style). This is also linked to a story detailing Virgin Mary’s death, the apostles’ burial of her body, Thomas being taken on a cloud to see the assumption of her body up to heaven, and his description to the apostles how that had happened, with their fasting and prayers in order for God to reveal such to them as depicted in the Synaxarium of the 16th of Mesra. The writer found no such detailed account in the case of other churches.
  • The entry of the Theotokos into the temple is celebrated on the 21st of November (4th of December new style Gregorian calendar for old calendarists) by the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, where it is called “the presentation of Mary”. However, the Coptic Church celebrates the entry into the temple on the 3rd of Kiahk (the 12th (13th) of December new style Gregorian calendar, 30th of November (1st of December) old style Julian).
  • The martyrdom of John the Baptist in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, is celebrated on the 29th of August, whilst in the Coptic Church this is celebrated on the 2nd of Thout (the 30th (31st) of August old style Julian calendar; 12th (13th) of September new style Gregorian calendar). Despite this, the birth of John the Baptist in all such denominations is celebrated on the 24th of June (which means that in the Coptic calendar it falls on the 30th of Bawounah, coinciding with the 7th of July new style Gregorian calendar).
  • The departure of Jonah the prophet is celebrated on the 25th of Thout in the Coptic Church, which corresponds to 22nd of September old style Julian calendar, whereby the Slavic churches (e. g. Russian Orthodox, and Serbian Orthodox) have the same celebration date, whereas the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church celebrate his departure on the 21st of September new style Gregorian.
  • There are other occasions and feasts that are celebrated on different days, with the above serving only as major examples of differences between various denominations, as well as differences in the number of Lordly feasts, and saintly ones. The writer is confident that the reader is aware of many more such examples, and have broader knowledge in such matters, and therefore finds no added value in listing extra days / feasts.

† As alluded to above, the writer can deduce that different denominations have varied practices in their feast days, in addition to the variations in their significance. The history, and purposes behind such differences were difficult to find with the writer’s limited sources of information, relying on many Internet sources and fewer books, but he hopes that this would work as a snapshot highlighting the many diversities encountered in individual societies. Indeed, it is this diversity, and individualism, that relates to the words of St. John in the Book of Revelation in seeing before him a great multitude from all nations, tribes, peoples and languages (quoted from King James Bible as follows: ‟After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” – Rev 7: 9).

  • Concluding remarks:

† There are many reasons why it is impossible to move Coptic feasts, and / or occasions, to other dates, let alone the impracticalities of such measures working at all. Scientifically speaking, the earth’s rotation around the sun is not a constant value in terms of orbit angles, shape, or speed. Such a rotation is influenced by many factors, and it has been proven that the speed of the earth is slowing down. Astronomically speaking, there is no such a principle as a perfect calendar. All calendars have known flaws, both in calculation, as well as application. Indeed, that is exactly the reason why calendars are divided in type into solar, lunar and luni – solar ones.

† The apokty calculation showed superiority and stability over the generations in its capability in precisely determining the feast of Resurrection according to the three canons of the Council of Nicaea. It has also taken into account calculations of lunations, to a high level, when compared to the reformed computus. The latter had failed in many respects, such as miscalculating lengths of some lunations, misplacing dates of new / full moons, calculating epacts as fractions of a lunation rather than full days, and failure to accommodate the insertion of Jewish leap months in some years. In fact, the writer finds the statement quoted from the scientist Lilius stating that the correction system he devised was to be a perfectly flexible tool in the hands of future calendar reformers, plus the statement made by some commentators (and more recent reformers) that the Gregorian Easter tables only apply in a period of two centuries only, rather unimpressive. That only strengthens the writer’s belief that the forefathers of the Coptic Church, by virtue of learning in the school of Alexandria, preceded scientists who came millennia after them.

† Hence, changing the date of the feast of Resurrection not only contravenes the Council of Nicaea canons, but also abolishes the legacies of the forefathers, and nullifies their teachings. They are such figures, who are revered by the whole world, and to whom we are truly indebted for the protection of the Christian faith as a whole. Indeed, had it not been for the Coptic Church of Alexandria, monasticism would not have spread throughout the world, nor would there have been evidence of countrywide miracles, such as collapse of Egyptian gods’ idols, moving of the Mokattam mountain, stopping of the River Nile’s drought, or the apparition of the St. Mary, the mother of God. The latter phenomenon has been known to occur in other countries albeit on a much smaller scale, as far as the writer is aware.

† Moreover, by following such suggestions as fixing the date of Easter (and consequently the feast of Resurrection) to the second Sunday of April, the feast of Annunciation will never again be celebrated in the Coptic Church. Equally importantly, the apokty calculation would be valueless, and a thing of the past, as if the Orthodox congregation would declare their riddance of the Orthodox principles. The writer hopes that these words not be misinterpreted as though he is against scientific evidence and research, on account of this very paper, but would like to highlight the unparalleled scientific position of the Coptic forefathers. In addition to such points, in the long – term, Jonah’s fast will coincide in some years with the third day of Theophany feast, and feast of the wedding of Cana of Galilee.

† As far as the Nativity feast is concerned, and suggestions of changing the Coptic calendar to coincide with the Western one, the writer wishes to again make it clear that the Gregorian calendar has been criticised for being inferior to the Julian calendar (which indeed emanated from the Egyptian calendar – later the Coptic calendar) in the purpose it was devised for. That is to say, it was originally devised to recalculate the date of Easter for the Western Church, with nothing to do with astronomical corrections, or earth’s positional rectification. Such a suggestion is completely unacceptable to the writer, as it would result in the deletion of at the very least 13 or more saintly commemorations, Marian, angelic, and / or Lordly feasts. It is also unacceptable as it would mean the ignorance of the miraculously intelligent phenomena worked by the Coptic forefathers, who manipulated the sunrays in such a way to fall into the altars of Virgin Mary, Archangel Michael, and St. George in their feasts (16th of Mesra, 12th of Bawounah, and 23rd of Baramouda respectively) in two churches in Egypt, separated by about 20 kilometres, one in Minya Al – Qamh, and another in another town called Great Sahrajt. Also of note, is the mutilation of the Coptic synaxarium, especially in those saintly feasts, and Marian occasions occurring in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. For instance, the apparition of St. Mary in Zeitoun is commemorated in the synaxarium of the 24th of Baramhat as in the following passage: “On the eve of this day of the year 1684 AM which coincides with Tuesday the 2nd of April 1968 AD, during the papacy of Pope Kyrillos VI, the hundred sixteenth Pope of Alexandria, our Lady and the pride of our faith started to transfigure in luminous spiritual forms in and around the domes of the church dedicated to her immaculate name in Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo… etc”. Besides this, is the presence of innumerable examples of required changes to dates in the synaxarium, should the suggestion of coinciding the two calendars gain any value, especially such dates after the sixteenth century, which had occurred based on changes not called for by the Orthodox Church in general, and the Coptic Orthodox Church in particular.

† Lastly, there is a vast variation in not only the practices of some feasts, but also their significance, and indeed dates of celebration. These variations serve only to reflect the diversity of God's creation, and confirm the interpretation of the Holy Passages, such as in the Book of Revelation. There is no point in repeating the potential losses if such celebration methods and meanings are minimised, undermined, or underestimated. The writer does not exaggerate if he describes this as being a harm that may be done to humanity as a whole, and not just the Christian faith, belief, or doctrines. Another obvious point to follow on from that, is that different churches celebrate different occasions for the Lord or any one saint. Our Coptic Church is rich in this regard, as she celebrates lordly feasts to do with Egypt, such as the entry of the holy family into Egypt, and the apparition of St. Mary in Cairo, as documented in the synaxarium. Please note that there are other instances occurring in Egypt, but have not been canonised or documented yet.

† The writer wishes to make it clear that he is a strong proponent of unity between different Christian denominations, and looks forward to this occurring soon. However, unity ought to be sought for a united understanding and belief in matters of faith, doctrine, and dogma, and not celebratory practices, and / or feast dates. It is pointless for any individual to suggest that various practices ought to be streamlined into only one practice, otherwise the apostles would not have chosen to pray in different liturgies / languages and / or manners, or even different regions all over the world – moreover, there is no such a thing as pilgrimage in our Coptic Orthodox belief (a belief not shared by other denominations) , as we believe that Christ is One for all peoples, nations, and races. It is therefore understandable, that it is not possible or feasible to share a single method of practising the Christian faith. Accordingly, various denominations have different traditions that they are predisposed to, by virtue of a variety of reasons, such as political climates, racial variations, and societal influences. To call for the riddance of certain practices in the name of unison among all denominations is to dilute traditions, subsume individualism, and compromise on the forefathers’ legacies. Indeed, it is the latter point that the writer feels strongly about in the Coptic Orthodox Church, as it reflects the extreme level of humility and obedience to God and His laws, including in which, the teachings of the forefathers and their reverence.

  • About the writer:

† The writer of this paper is called Dr. Fady Nabih Kamel, and has lived in England for more than 15 years, working in the field of psychiatry for about 14 years. He was born in Egypt and lived there until the age of 28, before moving to England. His life in a Western country greatly interested in scientific evidence, and research gave him extra motivation to complete this piece of work, especially due to his attachment to the Coptic Church, and the true Orthodox faith. As stated previously, the writer had recourse to more online resources than written books and documents, as displayed below in the references section, and he therefore encourages the reader to also research the material presented, as well as other resources for a thorough stance. The writer had focused mainly on scientific viewpoints, rather than religious or Biblical ones, where possible, in order to convey an objective perspective to the research paper that understandably contains Christian ecclesiastical commandments and rituals in its majority. The writer wishes to repeat that he has found countless references from a diversity of sources, however distant in their directions, suggesting that the Coptic Church is very rich and genuinely powerful, and that has attracted satan's wars over the centuries to her until this very day, while she is still steadfast. The writer asks the Lord to preserve him and his family in the Orthodox faith, and to keep the walls of this Bride of Christ strong, fortified, and immune to the attacks of the evil one. Pray for me.

(The writer would also like hereby to apologise for spelling mistakes, and the inarticulacy of his style, as English is not his first language. This piece has materialised subsequent to work conducted over a period of nearly two months, added to background knowledge garnered over a period of six months, upon engaging in a response to a suggestion of changing the date of the Nativity feast, by Fr Youhanna Nassif).

  • References:
    1. (Unknown Author). "Why is Christmas Day on the 25th December?". WhyChristmas. Ed. James Cooper. https: / / www. whychristmas. com / customs / 25th. shtml. Web. 15 Feb 2019.
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    With gratitude and request for prayers,.

    Dr. Fady Nabih Kamel,.

    Sheffield, England.

    Abib 1735 AM, July 2019 AD.

    Website: https: / / ophadece. home. blog.

    E – mail: [email protected] com.