You may have speculated many times about Christmas. How it is eminent in other countries apart from United States of America. How exactly is Christmas celebrated in Egypt for example? If a person is choosing Egypt for commemorating Christmas holidays, then what can one anticipate? These are the questions dazzling our brains especially at the year end.
Well. To fascinate many of you, Egypt though being a country of Muslim majority, is a outstanding place for Christmas merriment. The Coptic Christians have their own Popes in the country. To add to the spice, preparations set in motion a lot time before Christmas even disembarks!
In Egypt, the cooking and carousing begin a week prior to Christmas. People are full of activity, embellishing their homes with Christmas trees and lights. The Christmas bazaars are lit and people procure Christmas gifts and trinkets. The money grossed in the process is at times given to charities. So, all in all, Christmas is different in Egypt than in any other place of the world!
The Coptic Christians
In Egypt fifteen percent of the populace is Christian who formulate the exclusive portion of the Egyptians who rejoice Christmas. Nearly all Egyptian Christians hail from the Coptic Orthodox Church with moderately eccentric and inimitable ethnicity for Christmas.
For at least forty days, the Christian populace belonging to the Coptic Orthodox origin observes fast. Fasting means refusal to food or drinks by an individual for a chief part of the day with fish being the only edible item. This ritual is termed as the Holy Nativity Fast. The month that leads to Christmas is called Kiakh. The Christian populace intone songs in eulogize of the Lord on the night before the Sunday overhaul.
The Christmas day for the Egyptian Christian population is on the 7th of January, rather than being fêted on 25 January as in the entire world. This perception is beheld by the orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, Russia and Serbia too.
On the Christmas Eve, that is 6th January, the Coptic Christians visit the church for a special liturgy. On the day of Orthodox Christmas, 7th January, the Christian population of Egypt commemorate Christmas in their homes with numerous parties and festivals arranged for their friends and close acquaintances.
Albeit the preponderance of the population is not unerringly Christian, people do rejoice Christmas as a secular holiday anyway. Now days, Christmas is getting a lot of commercial vibe with the major supermarkets selling Christmas trees and other Christmas specialties at inflated prices.
In the country of Egypt, the Santa Claus is known as Baba Noel, which means the father of Christmas.
A snapshot of Christmas in the marvelous city of Cairo
After a tumultuous past weeks in Egypt, try making merry of Christmas in Cairo. The Christians in Cairo Egypt can breathe a sigh of relief. The nooks and corners of the shops are filled with:
1: Pink bells
2: Blinking lights
3: Snowmen with sleds
4: Glittering small trees
As it is Christmas in Cairo, the barber shop at the corner welcomes customers with his own Christmas tree. The Santa Claus standing in front of stores greet passersby.
When it is asked how the Egyptians Christians feel at the moment, there are mixed answers. Some of the Coptic Christians are scared while others want to participate in the political process. The general security of Egypt has gone from bad to worse. With the new revolution, there are increased number of thefts and muggings.
But the Christians adore celebrating Christmas in Egypt. There is a sun shining in these unstable times. And surprisingly, the Muslim community in Egypt also celebrates Christmas with Christians wholeheartedly.
In the city of Cairo, at the St Maria Church which is a Coptic church, people stream outside after the services come to an end. They usually have a feast lined up for the eve of Christmas with their loved ones. Many other Coptic Christians visit parties and clubs for celebrating Christmas.
The political scenario of Egypt
Since the sacking of President Hosni Mubarak, the Christians celebrated their first Christmas in an environment of complete awe. There was airtight security as the growing power of Islamists rise to the surface. There was an escalation of violence against the Coptic Christians community which constitutes only ten percent of the population in Egypt’s 85 million people. The radical Islamists were held responsible for the string of assaults, street clashes and attacks on the Coptic Christians community. They have become quite brave after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.
The celebrations of Coptic Christmas began on late Friday night in Cairo’s main cathedral. It was attended by figures from Egypt’s political system. There were people from Islamist groups and Muslim brotherhood and the ruling military council, which took power after Hosni Mubarak ouster, attended the event.
Pope Shenouda III respectfully appreciated their presence and appealed for national solidarity.
There were all sorts of Islamist leaders attending the cathedral that day as the Pope indicated. They agreed on national solidarity and are keen to work on it with the Coptic Christians. There was string of attacks on the numerous churches resulting in thousands of Coptic Christians protesting in the streets. They complained that criminals were not being brought to justice. As a result, there were further 27 Christian’s dead.
Absence of Christmas flavor
But this year, the Coptic Christians were not in the Christmas disposition. They did visiting church and prayed nut the delights were not at their peak as always. The present conditions in Egypt are gloomy and the determination to celebrate Christmas has extinguished. The desire to sing Christmas songs and celebrate jingling bells pales due to the present dilemma in Egypt.
The Coptic Christians are worried about their safety. They believe that the Islamists parties have more supremacy and yield more influence in sharing Egypt.
In Egypt, Christmas is not that commercial as compared to the Christmas in America. There is indeed extraordinary endeavor required to make it appear less commercial. The stores are not that crowded as one may expect. Gifts are purchased from particular Christmas bazaars that are supporting local charities.
The Holy path
These days, the Coptic Nativity is celebrated in a special midnight service in the church. Some of the Coptic Christians trek to numerous churches, which are deemed as the path the holy family took when they went through Egypt.
The largest service is held by none other than St Mark cathedral in the city of Cairo. The service is conducted by the Pope himself. It is broadcasted on the Egyptian television as well. The churches are bedecked by lights, angels and lamps. It is a breathtaking experience, all in all.
Spend Christmas holidays in Egypt
If you want to spend the holidays in Egypt celebrating Christmas, then it is pretty doable. Lying on the white sandy beaches of Egypt is certainly hard to resist. Spend a warm and relaxing Christmas holiday in Egypt and don not forget to bring a sun tan lotion and bathing suit along.
The luxury hotels in Egypt
If your idea of swimming and relaxing on the beach on Christmas day holds water, then it is certainly plausible as well. Sharm El Sheikh is a place to visit. The beautiful Sharm El Sheikh has some of the most beautiful white beaches and this hotel has received four out of five stars. It has private beaches and the environment is stress free. Christmas holiday in Egypt couldn’t be better than this.
The Sharm El Sheikh hotel
The Sharm El Sheikh hotel is a superb way of spending the Christmas holidays. A person can windsurf and parasail here. Scuba diving is also accessible here. There is beginner’s fun and more experienced activities obtainable. The splendid Sharm El Sheikh is a hotspot with crystal clear waters and striking corals. The sea view and sea life is dramatic and a treat for the weary eyes.
Key point to bear in mind while rejoicing on Christmas in Egypt
There are a few points to memorize, while celebrating Christmas in Egypt so as to ensure a complete relished vacation.
1: Be dressed in a new outfit on the Christmas Eve. This is a serious tradition in Egypt and a long standing one.
2: The church is festooned beautifully with lamps and candles in the memory of Joseph who lit candles to protect Mary from winter cold during the Nativity. So make sure your kids do not obliterate the decor.
3: Try observing Advent which is called fasting if you are of the Christianity origin. The forty days before Christmas are kept for fasting. In this period of time, don’t eat poultry products, dairy products and avoid drinking as well. However, now quantities of people do fasting for just one week and leave it at that.
4: Also, keep this in mind that bells will ring, when Christmas Eve church service concludes. That is the signaling end of fast.
5: Special bread called qurban is given by others at the ending of the service. The bread has a cross in the middle and at least twelve dots representing the twelve apostles. Regard this bread as holy and pay the due respect so as to avoid harming the sentiments of the distributors.
7: the Egyptian Christians prepare the Christmas meal which is known as fata. It is made up of boiled meat, garlic and rice. Enjoy this scrumptious meal with your friends and don’t forget to pay the tip!
8: Spend the following Christmas morning visiting people you may know. Try buying a Kaik which is a kind of a shortbread eaten with a drink known as shortbat. It is a warm sign of hospitality in Egypt.
While on your Christmas trek to Egypt, have a down pat on these two tips:
1: The Muslims and Christians both celebrate the birth of Jesus. So try rejoicing the event no matter what origin you are from.
2: Egypt is a country, which has been the center of cultural influences. The traditions of Christmas are a bit diverse and hard to generalize. The above steps are all the local traditions, which may or may not correlate with your Christmas celebrations.
A Christmas holiday in Egypt surefire suits everyone. There is something for everyone. It provides excellent value for money for the tired. Also, further along the line, there are places, where Christmas is celebrated on 25 of December. There are hotels and businesses that commemorate Christmas on the date similar to USA. So bring along your siblings and friends because Egypt has a lot to proffer in terms of enjoyment. Do make a plan to visit Egypt because it will be the unsurpassed Christmas holiday idea ever. That is a guarantee!