|An Egyptian Feast by Edwin Long (source)|
The exact origins of the festival and its name are somewhat muddled. Some sources say it means "smelling the breezes" and comes from a much older Egyptian phrase Tshom Ni Sime, meaning "gardens, meadows." An alternative explanation is that it comes from the ancient Egyptian word "shamo," the name for the spring season, and that it is a centuries-old pagan holiday. It is mentioned by Plutarch in the 1st century A.D.
Like the Western Easter, this Egyptian holiday has become secular and is celebrated by most Egyptians with family picnics and the dyeing and eating of eggs. Unlike the Western Easter, its traditional meal is a putrefied fish dish known as fesikh. Unsurprisingly, several people die each year from food poisoning.
We don't really know how old this celebration is, or if ancient Egypt is the origin of those cute little eggs children go hunting for every Easter Sunday. Some people would have the origin of practically everything on earth from Egypt. I have my doubts. Still, there are worse things you could do today than dye a few more eggs and go on a family picnic. Just don't eat any rotten fish.