Nayrouz Readings on New Year?

Peace and grace +

Happy New Year everyone. 

At my parish we have been reading the Nayrouz readings for the past couple of years on New Year (with the exception of the Synexarium). What do y'all think about this? 

I have been thinking about since last night haven't come to any conclusions. 

It didn't seem to me that the readings were more relevant than the Kiahk readings would have been and if effect we are deleting one reading per year from the Lectionary with this practice. 

Is this being done at other parishes? Why? 

I think this raises some issues about the Coptic Calender in general and whether it needs modification...


  • Coptic calendar needing modifications? That's just the result of invention and innovation willy nilly in some churches.. happy new year..
  • Personally I think it is absurd. I would pose the question since when has the 1st January become a Coptic feast? May be next we will be breaking our fast as well? This is very sad to hear.
  • edited January 2014
    Wow. This is the first time I hear of this being done.
    And what I think of it?! I don't like it. There is no reason for us to change the rite and replace the church reading of the day, and there is no reason to even think that the Church katameros needs any modifications.
  • My inclination is to agree with you guys. But with all the changes that are coming to the Coptic church in America, I see the calendar as the next  logical change. Why would Americans celebrate the New Year according to the Egyptian calender? Nayrouz will probably shift to be after Kiahk, with Kiahk itself pushed back and perhaps culminating with the Nativity on Dec. 25th...

    The real issue underlying this is whether the church calendar should remain completely separate from the secular world the Christians live in?

    I haven't talked to my priests about this, but I will and shall share what they say...

  • What's really inconsistent about the practice at my parish is that we chant all the hymns for Kiahk, but only change the readings! 
  • I don't know what "the changes that are coming to the Coptic church in America"?????? We are Coptic Orthodox and we'll always be this matter how many youth THINK they can create a major "change" in Church. 
  • Mina, don't be naive. You cannot expect nothing to change in the States. We already have two "American Coptic Orthodox Churches" in Southern California that pray fully in English. In a couple of generations the youth will have almost no real ties to Egypt (besides respect and gratitude for their forefathers coming to America and planting churches). 

    These youth will wonder why they should use a Coptic calendar, commemorate Coptic Saints, follow a Coptic New Year, speak a Coptic Language, etc. What will you tell them 100 years from now? You are Coptic Orthodox? The truth is that they won't be in any real sense. It is like telling black people in America they are Africans...perhaps they are historically, but little more. (I don't mean to downplay one's history and roots, but am speaking practically)

    My issue isn't really with using the Coptic New Year reading on the American New Year, but with the leaders doing this willy nilly. 
  • edited January 2014
    I agree with you Andrew that ultimately this is what will (and should) happen, regardless of my own personal affinity to the Coptic Rite. But Westernisation must not in any way compromise Orthodoxy.

    Side note: We should not change our date of Christmas just to match others, but we should change to a more accurate calendar, which will result in the same thing.
  • edited January 2014
    I wont be alive by then....that is God's gift to me. 
  • Sorry Andrew, I disagree. Practically speaking, 100 years ago Copts in Egypt used Coptic and 100 years from now they will likely use Coptic in Egypt still. The Moharraq monastery only prays the liturgy in Coptic for 1500+ years and will continue to do so. 100 years ago, Americans were multilingual. There has never been a time when the US was not multilingual. Why do we think the Church should be any different especially when Romans 8:26 alludes to this?

    Even if we have an American Coptic Orthodox Church, why does it imply that it must exclude Coptic or ancient traditions? (Notice, this is a little "t") Does the Orthodox Church of America use English only? Does the Syrian Orthodox Church in America (or any other sister Oriental Church) pray in English only? Do any of these churches have no real ties to their ancestor country? Is connecting with the ancestor country a matter of honor and gratitude only? This is not Orthodoxy. True Orthodoxy does not separate the Church into a vacuum of isolation for an elite group. This is what the Manichism and Gnosticism did and Orthodoxy fought vehemently against them because they preached a salvation for only a specific group. 

    Black people in America consider themselves Americans, not Africans. You are going on the premise that two seemingly similar groups must make a distinction universal and absolute. Black African Americans do not need to copy Black Africans. But if they want to, nothing forces them to keep and insist on a distinction between Black African Americans and Black Africans. Nothing stops a black person from being African American and loyal to an ancestor African country.  When it comes to religion, black people are not Black American Christians. They are Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc. Nothing stops a black person from being black and identifying themselves with their Christian denomination. Why must American Copts choose between being American and being Coptic? I know this is not what you were suggesting. But your analogy is faulty because it presupposes that two distinct groups derived from a common history cannot share a common identity more than history. 

    If the youth wonder why we should use a Coptic calendar, commemorate Coptic Saints, follow a Coptic New Year, speak in Coptic, etc, read them Deutoronomy 6:20-25. God already answered this. People will always ask why such customs are continuously done and persist in a different point in time. The answer is not to abandon them for more current customs. The answer is to repeat the story again. Tell them why we use these things, not abandon them because they don't make sense at a certain point of time. This is what Protestants do.

  • Part 2

    Let's really discuss what happens when people start to celebrate American New Year instead of Coptic New Year. Coptic New Year, involves a process of the WHOLE congregation singing hymns for the Trinity in one voice, Vespers, a procession of the martyrs, thanking God for a year of repentance among other themes.  What happens in Coptic Churches that "celebrate" American New Year? They sing Protestant songs with musical instruments. Santa Clause comes to visit with gifts. Individuals pray personal prayers in a communal setting, where no else can follow or pray in one voice. Then there's the content of these individual prayers: "Thank you for last year. Let the next year bring your blessings." It's no different than my Sunday school kids praying "Let those who didn't come this week come next week." Believe me, I listen year after year and I've been to many Coptic churches. In these individual prayers, there is no discussion of repentance, no use of liturgical language, no mentioning of intercessions until you get to the end, no Christology, no lex credendi, no following the heavenly examples as mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Why? All this to keep American Copts happy? 

    qawe, what makes you think the Gregorian calendar is more accurate then the Julian calendar? Both calendars are intrinsically different than astronomical and tidal acceleration calendars. While the Julian calendar has a larger error than the Gregorian calendar, it doesn't mean the Gregorian calendar is accurate. In addition, many churches and countries have not adopted the Gregorian calendar. 5 countries have not adopted it civilly. Only the Indian Oriental Orthodox Church uses the Gregorian calendar. The other Oriental Churches use the Julian Calendar. The  JerusalemRussiaSerbiaGeorgiaPolandMacedonia and the Greek Old Calendarists celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Are any of these churches begging for a more accurate calendar? Are any of these churches dying because they are not celebrating Christmas on December 25?

    There is nothing wrong with the treasures of the Coptic Church that have been passed down. Why do we feel the need to abandon what was used and done for hundreds of years exemplifying Orthodox theology and praxis and replace it with pseudo-secularism and Protestant poison? 
  • Remnkemi,

    Always a delight when you weigh in on a subject. I agree with you regarding the American
    New Year’s Celebration done in churches today.

    However, I don’t agree with your
    comments on ethnicity. Analogizing between African Americans and Coptic Americans
    to their ancestral tradition TODAY is apples and oranges. Analogizing AA (today)
    and CA (100 years from now) makes more sense. At that point in time Coptic
    Americans won’t identify themselves as such, they’ll simply consider themselves
    Americans. Just as AA really just consider themselves Americans or Black
    Americans. 100 years from now the Coptic immigrant to native American with
    Coptic background will probably be 1:10.

    And don’t get me wrong, I am not
    talking about replacing Nayrouz with what is done in churches on New Year. I am
    talking about shifting things so they make sense to the people using them.
    Americans don’t have a history of martyrdom under the rule of Diocletian, e.g.
    We are not in Egypt, so what is the need to hold on to Egyptian traditions and
    history? Your advice to the youth is applicable to the youth in Egypt, since it
    is merely an issue of TIME. To the youth in America, it is an issue of TIME and

    In any case, the history and
    tradition of the church is not what makes it strong, its faith does. At the
    church’s inception in various regions, there was no special history or special
    saints (by “special”, I mean special to the region). These things came with
    time. But the church certainly was strongest when it first started in various
    parts of the world.


    100 years from now the identity
    crisis that exists among Coptic Americans won’t exist.

    The choices are not “treasures of
    the Orthodox church” and “pseudo-secularism”. The choices are: holding on to a Coptic tradition and history
    in America
    or slowly replacing this
    tradition with an authentic American tradition that was born from and
    influenced by the Coptic tradition.

    I know there is a fear of not
    knowing what choosing the latter option really entails. What will an American
    tradition look like?

    I don’t know, but for starters, it
    might entail celebrating the New Year on Jan. 1st instead of Sept. 11th.

  • Andrew, 
    Let's examine some comments.

    You said:
    "However, I don’t agree with your comments on ethnicity. Analogizing between African Americans and Coptic Americans
    to their ancestral tradition TODAY is apples and oranges. Analogizing AA (today) and CA (100 years from now) makes more sense."
    Do you have any evidence to support this? There is no way to know what Coptic Americans will believe 100 years from now in any significant number. While you are right that African Americans do not want to be called African at all, because they have disassociated from Africa, there are plenty of other Black Americans who prefer to be called Black Carrebean American, for example. So there is no clear reason to insist or assume a culture in a foreign country will eventually drop their ancestor country. 

    You wrote: "At that point in time Coptic Americans won’t identify themselves as such, they’ll simply consider themselves
    Americans. Just as AA really just consider themselves Americans or Black Americans. 100 years from now the Coptic immigrant to native American with Coptic background will probably be 1:10."
    Your generalizations have some support with Black Americans but not so much with other ethnicities. Mexican Americans are divided among the term chicano "Mexicans who grew up in America". According to this site, the term went from a prejorative term to a sign of ethnic pride over 100 years since the wars of the 18-19th centuries. And those who reject the term chicano, still prefer terms like "Mexican American", Hispanic, Latin American, etc. Few will consider themselves American with no other descriptive term. Further support of my claim is found in this statement: "The Mexican archeologist and anthropologist Manuel Gamio reported in 1930 that the term "chicamo" (with an "m") was used as a derogatory term used by Hispanic Texans for recently arrived Mexican immigrants displaced during the Mexican revolution in the beginning of the early 20th century.[19] At this time, the term "Chicano" began to reference those who resisted total assimilation, while the term "Pochos" referred (often pejoratively) to those who strongly advocated assimilation.[20]The fact is that over 100 years later, many cultures are divided among assimilation with America. It is foolish to think that in 100 years Coptic Americans (or even a majority of Coptic Americans) will unanimously advocate assimiliation to the US. It only takes a quick glance of Coptic identity in the past 100-1500 years to see the strong resistance to any assimilation of foreign cultures.

  • Part 2

    You wrote: "And don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about replacing Nayrouz with what is done in churches on New Year."
    But you ended your message suggesting we celebrate New Years on Jan 1st, not Sept 11th. This is exactly the poison of Protestantism.

    You wrote:  "I am talking about shifting things so they make sense to the people using them."
    Since when do people do things only if it makes sense? What does the Orthodox term "mystery" and "sacrament" mean? By such logic, no one should ever partake of any of the sacraments. If you want to "make sense" of something people are using, look at how the fathers understood them, not replace the acts with poison.

    You wrote: "Americans don’t have a history of martyrdom under the rule of Diocletian, e.g. We are not in Egypt, so what is the need to hold on to Egyptian traditions and history? Your advice to the youth is applicable to the youth in Egypt, since it is merely an issue of TIME. To the youth in America, it is an issue of TIME and PLACE."
    You're absolutely wrong here. It is my tradition of martyrdom during the Diocletian time that makes my resistance for assimilation worth fighting. When Moses told the Israelites about this in Deutoronomy, they were already outside of Egypt. They were already in a different place doing customs they perceived of as a different time. God's response was that time and place are not factors of God's purpose. This is exactly what Satan was trying to argue with God concerning Job. Take him out of his time and place (more accurately out of his comfort zone), he will deny God. It is precisely how ancient customs from another culture that shape a person's personality and choices. 

  • Part 3
    You wrote: "The choices are not “treasures of the Orthodox church” and “pseudo-secularism”. The choices are: holding on to a Coptic tradition and history in America or slowly replacing this tradition with an authentic American tradition that was born from and influenced by the Coptic tradition."
    You present the two as divergent opposites but then combine them into one. "Slowly replacing this tradition with an authentic American tradition that was born from and influence by the Coptic tradition" Is identical to "a Coptic tradition and history in America." How else will an American tradition born and influence by the Coptic tradition occur if you are not holding to a Coptic tradition and history in America? If you don't hold to the Coptic tradition and history in America, then the new American tradition you advocate will have nothing to do with the Coptic tradition. In this case, it is like telling Black Americans to ignore their tradition and history both in the past and current, and slowly replace it with "authentic American". This implies "Authentic American" cannot include Black Americans holding on to their culture and/or the current Black tradition in America is not authentic. 

    You also fail to acknowledge that no other church or culture has "slowly replaced their culture with an authentic American tradition." Also, you can't define what is authentic American and what is not. This is a political claim that has no evidence. Is authentic American (1) white, English speaking, (2) black, with no ties to a past, (3), American Indian, living here first, (4) a Judeo-Christian, (5) none of the above, (6) all of the above? The fact is there is no workable definition of "American tradition". How can you advocate replacing a Coptic American tradition with something that doesn't exist outside multicultural contact? Rather I think it makes more sense to advocate a strong adherence to Coptic tradition, language, rites, as it has allowed us to survive and define us for 2000+ years. In doing this, any assimilation to foreign customs will not threaten our core. But if we can't define our core, then everything will be allowed. And this is called Protestantism.
  • 1) Reason using Mexican Americans as an analogy is faulty is because the immigrant population is steady and might even be increasing, this infusion preserves the ties to the motherland. 

    2) Moses example is also faulty since the adopted customs were inherently against God's prescribed customs. No reason to conclude that any liturgical tradition developed in the States will be inherently heterodox. 

    3) You can have a tradition born of another tradition that is ALSO particular to the people in America. E.g., you may be able to use Coptic hymns, but not Coptic tunes. You can have iconography of some Coptic saints, but not in the Coptic style, etc. And yes I agree - a black person that dresses as an African, speaks as an African, celebrates African feasts is probably only nominally American. 

    4) I think you are finally getting at the crux of the issue in your last point. And I don't have the answer. I can't tell you what this American Orthodox tradition will look like. I do think you are being naive if you think it will never develop. It may be a slow and organized development or  it will start in some parish by some rogue priest and his parishioners. And certainly that would not be a good thing. Yet if we don't start laying out a plan, some rebellious groups will began to map out their own and it will be too late at that point. 

    We have to be realistic. It is easy to simply blame the youth for their apathy - but there is some room for us to make the church in America more suitable to them. And I know some people cringe at the thought of the church changing for the people - I sometimes do too. But the church is living and her traditions can change to suit the people. This doesn't mean replace The Pauline with a passage from Rick Warren and it doesn't mean we should substitute hymns for songs. It means that tunes, art, etc aren't universal. The Spirit within these things is universal and can work in American tunes, art, etc. if we ask Him to. 

    To be clear - I did say that the  Coptic tradition will probably be replaced with American tradition (in the States)...however this need not be the case. Coptic tradition will probably survive alongside an American tradition (in the States) - though it will be preserved in a minority of parishes. 

    Is this a good thing for the church to be separated by culture within the same region? I don't think so - but this is a problem that is somewhat unique to the "Western" countries...

    In the end, I don't have any answers - so pressing me to provide any will be fruitless. What I do know is this: the same Holy Spirit that started the church in Egypt when St. Mark arrived and produced a rich tradition from a land of pagans is alive in America and will work through the people who have settled here.

    This will not (and I think should not happen now), since the Coptic identity is still strong among Coptic Americans. But when this identity fades in a few generations, change will be inevitable. We need to begin developing youth who are strong in the faith, so when the time comes they know what they must hold steadfast to and what can be changed. What I see is much effort teaching hymns, but not the meaning of the hymns. Much time telling stories of saints' lives, but not living the saintly life.

    We need to instill in our children the richness of the faith (not only the tradition and heritage). You guys can be my witnesses - is not the next generation more apathetic than the last? My generation laughed at the idea of protestant songs in youth meetings, the generation before mine saw the introduction of a guitar as a threat to the generation after me laughs at the idea of singing a hymn in a youth meeting and the generation after them will see the RE-introduction of (insert any thing Orthodox) as a threat to their "style of worship". 

    Friends, if we are going to teach our kids to hold on to our roots - let's teach them to hold on with both hands: faith AND tradition. Holding on to either alone will cause a person to fall. The faith can never change, the tradition can. If we change it too quickly the person will lose his grip and fall. If we change it slowly and honestly, both hands will be steady. (Someone smarter can make this analogy better, but you get the point). 

    (Note to Remnkemi: I can't keep up with you, so this might be all for me!)

    In Christ, 
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