Tuesday 5th March is Ploiaphesia Egyptian Festival of Navigation.
This was when one of the most important festivals of the Egyptian Goddess Isis was celebrated, the Ploiaphesiaor Navigium Isidis (Ship of Isis).
Isis was the name for this iconic Goddess used after the Greeks occupied Egypt (from 332BCE) and introduced the 'is' feminine endings. In earlier times, the locals called their land Khem or Khemit. In those days, Isiswas knows as Aset (also spelt Ausetor Iset).
The festival marked the opening of the safe sailing season after the stormy weather of winter had passed.
A statue of Aset was carried in procession from her temple down to the harbour, where a specially-built ship was moored.
The ship would then be loaded with offerings and dedicated to the Goddess, before being launched and carried out to sea by the wind.The festival is described by Apuleius in his Metamorphoses (also known as the Golden Ass).
To participate you can enjoy the energy of water and celebrate with processions, lights, mirrors, music and flowers.
Laminated poster of Aset (Isis) by Jacqui Taliesin El Masry from Alkhemi.co.uk, is available from the Harmony Shop.
This year, Tuesday 5th March is also Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, or within the UK as Pancake Day. Being the final day before Lent, this was traditionally a day for confessing sins and using up all the foods banned during the Lent fast. With pancakes containing butter and milk, they became associated with the date.
The verb 'shrive' means to gain absolution for one's sins through confession and/or penance. Hence Shrove Tuesday is derived from the tradition that Christians were 'shriven' before Lent. The date of Lent - which takes place in either February or March but always seven weeks before Easter - varies from year to year according to the lunar calendar which determines when Easter falls.
Interestingly, as with many Christian Festivals, there is a theory that Pancake Day might actually have originated as a Pagan holiday; when eating warm, circular yellow pancakes - resembling the sun - celebrated the arrival of spring.
Image of blueberry pancakes, above, is by jeffreyw (mmm... pancakes Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.