coptic calendar


July 6, 2022

The Coptic calendar, also called the Alexandrian calendar, is used by the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and Ethiopia. This calendar derives from the ancient Egyptian calendar, which was reformed at the time of Ptolemy III (Canopus' decree, 238 BC) with the introduction of the sixth epagomenal day every four years (in practice a compensation like that of the leap year); however this reform was opposed by Egyptian priests and was only implemented in 25 BC, when the Roman emperor Augustus formally reformed the Egyptian calendar, keeping it from that moment on in synchrony with the Julian calendar. The Coptic calendar corresponds to the Egyptian calendar thus renewed; in its Ethiopian form it has the same years and months, but with different numbers and names. Following the Egyptian calendar, the subdivision into three seasons lasting four months each is maintained. The three seasons are commemorated by special prayers of the Coptic liturgy and this subdivision is maintained today by many farmers who recognize the various seasons of agriculture. In addition to the "normal" 12 months of 30 days, the calendar also includes a "month" at the end of the year, lasting 5 or 6 days (depending on the leap year). The years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar, but have different names. The year begins on August 29 in the Julian calendar, which usually coincides with September 11 in the Gregorian calendar. The counting of the years starts from 284, the year in which Diocletian became Roman emperor, whose reign was marked by mass torture and persecution of Christians, especially in Egypt; for this reason the abbreviation accompanying the Coptic year is "A.M." (Annus Martyrum, year of the martyrs).

Coptic year

The Coptic year is an extension of the ancient Egyptian civil year (still in use among Egyptian peasants for cultivation reasons), of which it maintains the subdivision into three seasons of four months each; the three seasons are commemorated with special prayers in the Coptic liturgy. The Coptic calendar has 13 months: 12 of 30 days each, plus an intercalary month at the end of the year of 6 or 5 days, depending on whether the year is a leap year or not. The year begins on August 29 of the Julian calendar, except the year before Julian leap years, when the year begins on August 30. The rules for the Coptic leap year follow the Julian ones, so a Julian leap year always follows the Coptic leap year.

Coptic months


Wolfgang Kosack, Der koptische Heiligenkalender. Deutsch - Koptisch - Arabisch nach den besten Quellen neu bearbeitet und vollständig herausgegeben mit Index Sanctorum koptischer Heiliger, Index der Namen auf Koptisch, Koptische Patriarchenliste, Geografische Liste, Christoph Brunner, Berlin 2012, ISBN 94018-478-3-95

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Liturgical year in the Orthodox Church Julian calendar Egyptian calendar Liturgical calendar Calendar of Saints Martyrology Alexandrine Synassary

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