SPEECH: Coptic New Year Nayrouz

On behalf of Labor, I extend my warmest wishes to Coptic communities in Australia and around the world, who are today celebrating the Coptic New Year, Nayrouz. The celebration of Nayrouz is observed according to the ancient Egyptian calendar or Coptic calendar. Nayrouz commemorates the martyrs of the Coptic faith and their sacrifice in protection of the Christian faith in the Roman era. Traditionally, seasonal red dates are eaten on this day. The red symbolises the blood of the martyrs, the white centre of the dates is a symbol of their purity, and the seed reflects their strong faith.

In Australia, Coptic communities mark Nayrouz with a special mass that includes a joyful choir of chants and prayers in remembrance of the lives and examples the martyrs led. Dates are handed out, along with pictures of the holy Coptic saints, to followers at the end of the mass. The word 'Nayrouz' originated from the Coptic word that means 'rivers' and coincides with the annual inundation of the Nile River with water.

I am grateful for the contributions of our Coptic communities. I acknowledge those in my electorate Punchbowl, as well as the broader Coptic community in Australia and in particular the Coptic member of parliament, the member for Wills. It is celebrations like Nayrouz that highlight our diverse nation of many cultures, faiths and backgrounds, united by our shared values of hope, peace and unity—the essence of what a modern multicultural society stands for. I wish all those celebrating a happy and prosperous Nayrouz.

Tony Burke