Coptic calendar

National Folklore Archive , Saturday 12 Sep 2015

Egypt's ancient Coptic calendar is also a handy guide to the seasons and the weather

courtesy of landrock and lenart


Nobody can predict the weather of Egypt better than Egyptians, so here is your guide to the weather via a very useful calendar.

The Coptic calendar, affiliated with the agricultural seasons, is inherited from the ancient Egyptian calendar. To summarise the change in seasons,  each Coptic month is accompanied by its own witty proverb explaining the changing weather.

Tout (Sept 11- Oct 10), Yool lel har mout (‘Kills off the heat waves’)

Known for its good weather, the proverb explains that this time of the year is not good for cultivating new crops and it’s the beginning of autumn.

Baba (Oct 11 – Nov 9) Zar3 Baba yeghleb al nahaba (‘Any theft of crops will hardly be noticed in the harvest of Baba due to its richness’’)

Hatour (Nov 10 – Dec 9) Abou Al dahab Al Mantour (‘Hatour, Where gold is scattered everywhere’)

This month is when Egyptian farmers traditionally plant the wheat seeds and when the corn harvest ripens.

Kihak (Dec 10 – Jan 8) Sabahak Misak, Sheil Eidak men Ghadak w hotaha fi ashak (‘Your day and night are so close, that you finish your breakfast only to start dinner’)

At this time of year, days are short and nights are long.

Touba (Jan 9 – Feb 7) Yekhali el sabia karkouba (‘It causes the young to age’)

Touba is the coldest time of year in Egypt, and as the proverb suggests, can make even the youngest woman ache from cold.

The month is traditionally divided into three:

Touba - the first ten days which are usually very cold.

Tabtab - the following ten days which make a person shiver (hence the name tabtab).

Tabateb - the last days that which go back and forth between good weather and rain.

Amshir (Feb 8 – March 10) Abu al za3abib al keteer, yakhod al agouza w yeteir (‘Amshir huffs and puffs and even makes an old woman fly’)

Amshir is windy and full of sandstorms. Egyptian peasants divided this month into three:

Mashir - also known as the ten days of the shepherd where it is deceptively warm.

Mesharshar - the following ten days of the sheep where it is very cold, rainy and windy and a lot of sheep die in the process.

Sharasher - the last ten days, where old people start to move around and enjoy the warm weather.

Brahmhat (Mar 10 – Apr 8): Roh el Gheit we hat, qamhat, adsat, basalat (‘Bramhat, go reap your harvest of wheat, lentils and onions’)

This is Egypt’s harvest season.

Barmouda (Apr 9 – May 8): Daq al Amouda wala yebqa fel gheit wala ouda (‘Hammering down the stake and not a single green leaf in the land’)

Barmoud is the season of crop storage and the season of dars, meaning separating crusts from the seeds through the movement of farm animals tied to al-nawrag (a wooden handmade cart-like device).

Bashans (May 9- June 7): Bashans yoknos el gheit kans (‘Bashans sweeps the land’)

It’s post-harvest time, when the land is left to rest, to be ready for the next sowing season.

Baouna (June 8 – July 7) Naql wa takhzein el mouna, fieh el harara malouna (Storage season for it’s the season with the hottest weather)

It is close to the flooding season, hence ancient Egyptians learnt to store their goods really well to keep them away from the flood.

Abib (July 8 - August 9) Abib tabakh el enab wel tein (‘Abib the cook of grapes and figs’.

Masry (Aug 7 – Sept 5): Tegri fieh kol ter3a asera (‘All the streams run in this season’)

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