Coptic New Year is upon us. I wish you and your loved ones a blessed New Coptic Year!
This year, let us purposely celebrate this new spiritual beginning.
The January 1st New Year comes with its set of traditions, and different ways of celebrating it depending on the cultural background, whether influenced by historical mythology or passed down through generations in certain families. Among the most familiar customs are the countdown to midnight, fireworks illuminating the sky, and the inevitable drafting of the New Year’s resolutions. I think we all welcome new beginnings as they hold the promise of a “better” tomorrow, a better year ahead.
How is it we don’t make as big of a fuss when it comes to celebrating Coptic New Year? I can’t recall any significant celebration besides eating dates that are distributed by the parish to mark the occasion. What I remember is an annual Sunday School lesson about why dates are eaten during the Coptic New Year and the symbolism attached to them. Why don’t we make a bigger fuss about starting a new spiritual year? A new spiritual New Year, part of our journey with Christ, part of growing closer to Christ. I think this deserves to be celebrated and creating traditions to go with it. I wrote this article to help families with young children prepare for and make the most of the New Coptic Year.
If we take the example of a new academic year, we recognize there are many rules when kids go back to school, right? They have to go to sleep at a certain time. They have to wake up at a certain time; they have to do their homework when they come back home; they have to work on their projects, et cetera. There are also certain traditions that repeat themselves with every academic year. The children meet a new teacher, make new friends, and must accomplish certain learning goals.
I created a template to celebrate and mark the Coptic New Year inspired by the rituals that children are familiar with as they repeat them with every new academic year. I also created a checklist that you can print and leverage with your young ones. It is our gift to you!
Here is the plan and the logic behind it:
First: Reading Spiritual Books.
During the academic year, children have to read books, so I’m suggesting you pick one spiritual book to read with your child, or for your child to read on their own (and this is not a plug for my books, I promise). Let us commit to choosing any edifying and interesting spiritual book for your child to read.
Depending on their age, you could make this a monthly aim or a quarterly goal. The goal would be to finish one spiritual book either every month or every three months and marking it on their The SuperHolies Grow in Christ checklist (attached below).
Second: Making a new Saintly friend
Gather your family and decide which Coptic Saint to learn about or choose as your special intercessor for the year. One of my dear friends, Laura, has this beautiful package called Our Heavenly Friends (here is the link). If you are a parent or a Sunday school teacher or a priest reading this article, I highly suggest you get it for your children.
Third: Reading the Bible as a Family (think of it as a Study Session)
This is a transformational activity. The family that reads the Bible together stays together. Let us dedicate one night per week where we read one chapter of the Bible together and discuss it. It could be on Saturday night where we read the chapter of the Bible corresponding to the Sunday’s gospel reading the following day. Or, you can decide to dedicate the family Bible reading session to focusing on the book of Psalms or Proverbs, or any book that is age friendly for your kids.
Fourth: Attending Liturgy on time
This must become a priority. We arrive at school and work on time, why not liturgy? Let’s make it an aim to sleep early on Saturdays and wake up earlier than usual so we could arrive at church earlier than usual. Arriving 15 minutes earlier would be a good start (this might not be possible for families with young children; trust me, I remember those days. Making it to church with babies is a triumph to be celebrated).
Fifth: Use the free SuperHolies Grow in Christ checklist (attached below, print it in colour for maximum benefit)
Here is what we have planned so far to practice this Coptic New Year: we will read spiritual books and learn about a new Saint. We will also read the Bible together and arrive early to Liturgy. The checklist also includes praying morning and night, one act of kindness, and praying before meals.
Coptic New Year is also a chance for adults (and even our youth) to review their walk with Christ and identify areas for improvement. Can we offer more of our time for service at church? Can we pick a book for ourselves that will equip us in our walk with Christ as families or on a personal level? I have a list of books that I think are essential for husbands, wives, and for personal growth in Christ (attached below).
Is this the year you decide to conquer one nagging spiritual challenge that has plagued you for years? For example, have we been neglecting our Bible, confession, tithes? Just like those personal development plans we have to design and implement at work; we should similarly set goals and objectives for our spiritual lives. I leave you with this one crucial question: how can we grow closer to Christ this Coptic New Year?
Tools and resources:
The SuperHolies Grow in Christ checklist. Here is our Coptic New Year’s gift to you.
Click on this link to download and print: The SuperHolies Grow in Christ Checklist
Recommended Books by category:
For married couples: A lifelong Love
For parents: Parenting Towards the Kingdom
Apologetics: The Case for Christ
Pope Shenouda: Holy Week Contemplations
Other recommended books:
Wishing you all a blessed Coptic New Year
Other articles you might enjoy: New Year’s List of Solutions not Resolutions
Recommended book: The Super Secret TreeHouse Bible Club – Zerubbabel
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