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Wepet-Renpet : Festival of the New Year

Ancient Egyptian Year

What: The Wepet-Renpet Festival – “Opening of the Year”

Where: Throughout Egypt

When: The Opening of the Year – Festival moved annually as it depended on the flooding of the Nile River. The Festival was firmly established before the end of the Old Kingdom

How do we know about the Festival: Pharaohs have recorded the details of the Festival on their Temples

How long: Depended on the time when the Nile flooded

Why: The New Year’s Day Celebration in Ancient Egypt which celebrated the rebirth of the God Osiris  

What happened at the Festival?

The Priests would scour the skies for the reappearance of the star Sirius after an absence of 70-day. They knew that the return of Sirius meant that the flood was imminent, and this reset the calendar for a new year.

Solemn rituals related to the death of Osiris were observed as well as singing and dancing to celebrate his rebirth. The call-and-response poem known as The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys was recited at the beginning to call Osiris to his feast.

The Festival was also a time for the families to visit the Tombs of their recently departed and ancestral kin to bring them their yearly offerings. These usually included items that the deceased would use in their Afterlife:

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Toys and Games – such as Senet
  • Jewellery
  • Amulets

The Mourners would recite Spells and Prayers for the deceased; and may also request that the deceased be able to intercede for them with the Gods on a problematic manner in the land of the living. 

It was not unusual for the Family to have what we would recognise today, as a day long picnic inside the Tomb so they could spend time with those who they were missing in their daily lives.