Christmas according to the old (Julian) calendar

Writing about time, one cannot avoid remarking the difference between the two calendars of the Christian world: despite the corrections implemented to the Julian calendar by the wise men of the court of Pope Gregory XIII, not all the churches abandoned the Julian calendar for the sake of the updated Gregorian calendar.  The thirteen days of decalage between the two, means that the churches that stayed faithful to the old calendar celebrate their Christmas today!

There are for example such Old Calendarists in Greece (called παλαιοημερολογίτες in Greek), so one can wish them:


The Latinized form of the wish used in Egypt and Ethiopia today would be:


This is a combination of the Semitic word for “King” and the Greek word for “Birth”.

However, a more literal expression in Coptic for wishing in the occasion of the festivities for the Nativity of Jesus the Christ could be:

An insistence this year on the Coptic version of the wish “Merry Christmas” among all of the denominations using the Julian calendar would be easy to excuse based on what happened in Alexandria on New Year’s Day…

But it can also be explained in the context of the Medieval Sai Project Internet space through the fact that the Coptic language was widely used on the island in the Christian period (ca. 5th – 15th centuries CE).

More generally, in the entire Middle Nile Valley during the Middle Ages, this wish could be heard in both Greek and Coptic, but eventually an Old Nubian version should have developed.

Could that have been expressed thus?

This entry was posted in Nubia, Old Nubian. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Christmas according to the old (Julian) calendar

  1. chirine nour says:

    pos boroume na diavassoume ta coptika?
    yparxei kapou kapoios odigos?

  2. ergamenis says:

    For a basic intro to the Coptic alphabet cfr.:

    For a basic intro to the Old Nubian language and script, cfr.:

    The best specialized site on Old Nubian is:

  3. Robin says:

    And what about the arabic ? Isn’t it possible that some Christian arabic-speakers lived in Sai during the late Medieval Period ?

    In this cas one would probably say :

    سنة مباركة
    “Sana mubâraka”

    This is the standard way of wishing a happy new year in modern arabic but it was probably quite different during the Middle Ages…

    Congratulations by the way for your blog and

    “Sana mubâraka”!

  4. ergamenis says:

    It must be the case that in the Late Period of Christian Nubia, there were Arabic speaking Christians in various parts of the Middle Nile; so, why not on Sai too!
    In the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum, for example, there is exhibited a mural from Abdel Gadir with a graffito in Arabic of a visitor with a Christian name.

    As for the Arabic wish, what about a more precise expression for Christmas? Is it also among all Arabic speaking Christian denominations “Melkem Genna”??

    In any case, we reciprocate:

    Saha oua salama :-)

  5. Robin says:

    I din’t know about this graffito ! It is quite interesting.

    For the christian wish in arabic I am not aware of any specific formula but my knowledge on this question is limited…

    Melkem Genna is widely used by Ethiopians but I don’t know for the Copts or other Eastern Christian communities…

  6. “Christmas according to the old (Julian)
    calendar Medieval Sai Project” was in fact a wonderful posting.
    If perhaps it possessed a lot more images it would certainly be perhaps even
    even better. Thanks ,Stefanie

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