What about holidays? Do we need them? How do I figure out when holidays occur? How do I celebrate holidays? Can I make up my own holidays?
For this round of KRT, we’re discussing the nuances of having a calendar in your personal practice. There is a lot of discussion about calendars, mainly because Egypt was very peculiar in how their calendar was set up, and unlike ours, where the dates are pretty static, the dates of things drifted because a lot of their holidays were centered around when stars would rise and set and things of that sort.
There is also the issue that there are holidays for almost every day of the year, and in many cases, there are multiple holidays each day because we’re compiling calendars from thousands of years of Egyptian history. And on top of that, we don’t always know how each holiday was celebrated either. Sometimes we only have a name for the holiday in question.
So as you can see, it gets complicated really really quickly.
Unlike a lot of Kemetics, I don’t celebrate many holidays. If anything, I’m more likely to celebrate a Shinto Taisai over a Kemetic holiday – and personally, I think this is okay. I don’t think you necessarily need to adhere to the traditional holidays in order to “properly” participate in the Kemetic religion or worship/work with the NTR.
So why don’t you think the holidays are important or necessary?
I think the answer to this is a multi-layered thing. Holidays are great- they can bring people together. They remind us to be active in our practice and to honor the deity or figure that the holiday is centered around. Holidays have a knack for reminding us that religion is important and that it plays a role in our life. But for many Kemetics, we are doing what priests did by focusing on the gods daily- so I don’t think that that aspect of our religion really needs emphasis for us.
Further more, many of the holidays were centered around agricultural and seasonal things that no longer occur, or don’t occur where we live (many people don’t have planting season in the winter or we no longer have a pharaoh to venerate for certain festivals, for example). And on top of that- how do you really celebrate a holiday that you pretty much know nothing about? If you don’t know anything about the holiday in question- what is the point? Why not make a new, more meaningful holiday instead?
And that is probably more accurate to how I approach the Kemetic calendar. I honor gods and days as I see fit (which is rarely). The only traditional holidays I even remotely bother with keeping to are Wep Ronpet and The Mysteries.
It is in my personal opinion that you can create new holidays if you want. To some extent, even with the old, well established holidays- we are recreating them, breathing new life into something that has been long forgotten. So even though the names are the same, the practices themselves are pretty new – and that is okay. Nothing says that you can’t create new, personal holidays for the gods that celebrate your practice, your life, your progress, or the gods in particular.
Or you can do like me, and not celebrate at all. That’s cool too.
As for figuring out holidays- that is a tricky thing. For established holidays (traditional days of celebration and veneration from antiquity) I utilize KO’s calendar that they send out each month. And in the near future, Tamara Siuda herself will be releasing a book about the calendar that should be helpful with determining dates for the traditional holidays.
What if I want to create some holidays?
That’s a bit more intuitive, I think. I like to spend more time venerating Set in the summer because its dry and dead- and it is more traditionally aimed towards him. Down here in the desert, we do actually have a short growing/planting season in the late fall/early winter- and I spend more time focusing on Osiris during those months. And due to my Shinto influences, when I do participate in Taisai (holidays, basically) I do things for the NTR, too because they are a part of my life.
So if you’re interested in creating your own set of new holidays, I’d recommend you take a look at what you want the holiday to celebrate, and where on the calendar that would fit best. Perhaps you feel like crap during the month of March and need to add a holiday in there to remind yourself to keep going and that life is awesome. Maybe you are forced to do the Christmas thing every December, and need to add some personal, Kemetic touches to the holiday to keep your sanity. Or maybe you feel particularly close to your god in the middle of June and want to find a way to celebrate them during that month.
I think that holiday creation is great, but its highly personal- and so telling someone how to do it is very difficult.
As for methods to celebrate- a lot of my methods follow the same general structure.
- I clean my house.
- I clean myself.
- I do a rite for the gods (usually out of Eternal Egypt) and leave them offerings.
- I execrate stuff.
- I try to have a good day and take a rest for once.
- And then I normally have a good meal to cap it all off.
I would recommend experimenting and finding what works best for you. For things like Wep Ronpet or Feast of the Beautiful Valley, we’ve got some idea as to how things were done in antiquity, but for many holidays, we’re completely stumped as to what was done. So I see nothing wrong with trying out new things. If the gods dislike it, odds are they will let you know.
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