Advent and Christmas in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptian neter (god), Ausar’s (Osiris’) life, being a symbol of the moon, is associated with a cycle of 28 days (4 weeks). This was echoed later in the Christian Advent, which in Latin is ad-venio, meaning to come to. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that: “Advent is a period embracing 4 Sundays. The first Sunday may be as early as 27 November, and then Advent has 28 days.”

aerx-ausar-wheatThe 28-day cycle of Ausar (Osiris) and its relationship to the regeneration principle is nicely depicted in the famed scene of the resurrection of the wheat, which depicts Ausar with 28 stalks of wheat growing out of his coffin.

The ecclesiastical year begins with Advent in the Western churches. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the faithful are admonished, during this time:

    • To prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
    • Thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
    • Thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.”All the above elements are of Ancient Egyptian origin. Such traditions were observed during (and in fact were based on) the annual jubilee of the Ancient Egyptian King, known as the Sed (or Heb-Sed) Festival, which was always held during the month of Kee-hek (Khoiakh, i.e. December) every year. This festival dates from time immemorial, and continued to be celebrated throughout the Ancient Egyptian history.The intent of this annual event was the renewal/rejuvenation of the supernatural powers of the King. The renewal rituals aimed at bringing new life force to the King, i.e. a (figurative) death and a (figurative) rebirth of the reigning King.
      In the Ancient Egyptian traditions, this concept of perpetual power (between the old and the new) is eloquently illustrated in the Ausar Temple at Abtu (Abydos), where Heru is being born out of Ausar, after Ausar’s death.
      This gives more meaning to the phrase: The King is dead—Long live the King.In the Ancient Egyptian traditions, the rejuvenation/birthday of a new/renewed King comes symbolically 28 days after 27 November—the symbolic Last Supper and the Death of Ausar (Osiris)—i.e. 25 December. The Christian calendar celebrates the same day as the birth (rebirth) of the new King, namely Jesus, who is referred to as a King throughout the Bible. The 28-day cycle signifies the Advent (both in Ancient Egyptian and Christian traditions) of the King.All the elements mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the previous page concur with their Egyptian origin, whereby Ausar (Osiris) incarnates as Heru (Horus), and that Ausar is the judge of the dead.Due to the absolute lack of historical and archeological evidence to support the biblical accounts of Jesus, the church fathers turned to Egypt to pick some dates from a list that was attributed to Clement of Alexandria. The list places several dates: 25 Pachon (20 May), 24 or 25 Pharmuthi (19 or 20 April). Clement however indicated that Epiphany, and with it probably the Nativity, was celebrated on 15 or 11 of Tobi (10 or 6 January). 6 January is proven to be the date adopted for his “birthday” throughout the various churches in the Mediterranean Basin. 25 December came later and was based on the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind 6 January. [See explanation of the 13-day difference in Appendix E of Egyptian Mystics: Seekers of the Way, by same author.]

Moustafa Gadalla

For more information about the Ancient Egyptian roots of all major Christian holidays, refer to: 

  • The Ancient Egyptian Roots of Christianity, 2nd ed.