As C. J. Cregg would say, “Ya think??”
Yes indeed. But there’s more to it than that. A little ways down the article…
While drinking and dancing are part of many modern New Year’s celebrations, the early Egyptians probably would have disapproved of the partying because they viewed such activities in a very different light….
“The Festival of Drunkenness was not a social occasion for them,” said Betsy Bryan, who led the dig. “People did not come to enjoy themselves. They drank to enter an altered state so that they might witness the epiphany of a deity.”
According to Bryan, the Festival of Drunkenness began with attendees appeasing a lion goddess deity, such as Mut, with red beer that received its color from red ochre.
Oho…now I know where we are. We’re celebrating the time when the Great God Ra got pissed off at mankind about something, and told Hathor to go kill them a little to get his point across. So she did, taking the shape of the lion-goddess Sekhmet for greater effectiveness in the job (since Hathor’s normal shape was that of a divine cow or cow-headed woman, and even under optimum conditions a divine cow can’t kill as many people as fast as a divine lion).
After a while Ra said, “Okay, that’s enough now,” and Hathor said, “No, I’m liking this — !” and killed a whole lot more of mankind, so that the earth ran red with their blood, as if it was the Nile overflowing its banks.
And Ra said, “Wait a minute, if this goes on, we’re not going to have much mankind left at the end of the day!” — and he told some of the gods to get him mandrakes, and told the rest of them to Make Beer, Fast. Which they did. And they then made beer, and put the mandrakes in it, and then went to Hathor, and said, “Hey, after a long day killing mankind, we know you work up one heckofa thirst. And so…it’s Beer Time!”
And Hathor drank the beer, and got plastered, and stopped killing mankind. Everyone said “Whew!” And the next morning, when Hathor got up and walked off rubbing her head and wondering what they’d put in that beer, Ra said to the rest of the gods, “From now on we do this every year at this time — at the New Year, when the Nile overflows its banks — in case she gets the same idea around then. Oh, and mankind can have some of the beer too. It’ll keep them off our case, and remind them that if they get out of hand again, there’s always Hathor.”
And so it came to pass.
Now somebody get me a kriek (which is a pretty color of red without anybody putting red ochre in it)…