Sham Al-Naseem is a national holiday that brings together and unites all Egyptians
Sham Al-Naseem announces the beginning of Spring, it’s considered an Egyptian national festival that all Egyptians celebrate, Muslims and Christians, it is a national festival that comes to unite them and bring them together again, so it is a public holiday. It always falls on Easter Monday, which is the day after Easter, which dates back to the ancient Egyptian ages and relates to the agriculture background of Egypt.
Its date was calculated by the ancient Egyptians independently of Easter, on the first day of Pentecost, which coincided with the day after Easter.
According to the records written by Plutarch during the 1st Century A.D., ancient Egyptians celebrated Sham Al-Naseem during the Pharaonic era (around 2700 B.C.) and the celebration continued during the era of the Ptolemies and the Romans through the Middle Ages. The festival became connected to the other Christian Spring festival, which is Sunday and called Easter after Egypt entered Christianity, therefore Easter Monday became Sham Al-Naseem according to the eastern Christian method of calculation which is used by The Coptic Orthodox Church, the biggest Christian cult in the country.
And by the time of the Islamic conquest of Egypt, Muslims researched separately for the time of Spring festival according to history and confirmed its time, which is the day after Easter as mentioned. As time passed, it became a national holiday that brings us together as Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, and then the manifestations of celebrating it united until we reached its current form.
So, we all grew up on many rituals to celebrate Sham Al-Naseem, as it came to us from the ancient Egyptians who used to offer salted fish, lettuce and onion to their deities during the Spring festival known as “Shemu,” and a habit appeared called "Sham al-Naseem" (or the smell of exhale). As it is observed on the first day of the Pentecost: early in the morning, many people, especially women, break an onion and smell its scent, then during the forenoon period, many Cairo residents generally ride boats towards the north to have some fresh air, as they believe that this day has a beneficial effect. Many people eat food by the river, which includes colored eggs, as the ancient Egyptians were the first to color boiled eggs with different and vibrant colors that expressed Spring and were impressive.
And up to our time, we still follow the lead of our ancient Egyptians and their habits for Sham Al-Naseem with the same manifestations and festivals. People spend the day picnicking in any green area, going to public parks, the Nile, visiting relatives or going to villages and agricultural lands to breathe fresh air and eat traditional food, as were the traditions, where they ate Fesikh, herring, sardines, salinity and all kinds of fish, the also ate lettuce, green onion and lupine, as well as the habit to coloring boiled eggs and eating it, which is still one of the most important joys of Sham Al-Naseem.