Christmas in Egypt – How do They Celebrate in the Country Where Jesus Visited as Child

Christmas in Egypt is a celebration of selflessness.

While Egypt is not a Christian country, Christmas is still celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Coptic Christians (belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria) that reside in this African nation.

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Coptic Christians makeup around 20 percent of the population and celebrate Christmas every year on January 7.

The Christmas date is different than the traditional day of December 25, because it’s based on an ancient Egyptian solar calendar.

Despite a relatively small population of Coptic Christians in Egypt, those that do celebrate do so grandly and with selflessness in mind.

Pre-Christmas Celebrations

Before Christmas arrives, families and communities will prepare in advance by decorating homes and churches with lights, candles, lamps, nativity scenes and Christmas trees.

Being that Egypt is not exactly the ideal climate to grow pine trees, most Christmas trees are artificial.

Beginning 45 days before Christmas, many Coptic Christians will abstain from all animal products — eggs, meat, cheese, and dairy — essentially becoming vegetarians until Christmas Day.

Christmas Cuties

Some begin their celebration with cruises. There are Nile cruises specifically for Christmas in Egypt.

These cruises feature elaborate meals, festive music, parties, and Christmas decorations to get guests into the holiday spirit.

Church Celebrations

On Christmas Eve, which takes place in Egypt on January 6, Coptic Christians head to church to celebrate.

There is an extravagant celebration at the Cathedral of Saint Mark in Cairo, which is broadcast all over the world. Bells in the churches ring, meals are enjoyed, and the event is quite a festive one.

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Church in Egypt
Church in Egypt

After church, families head home to enjoy a modest meal. It typically consists of soup, meat, and rice.

Sometimes, there will be sweet biscuits, marked with crosses as a symbol of the Christian faith.

The children wait for Santa Claus, known as “Sint Clas” in Egypt, to leave small gifts.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, people visit their families and friends and children that celebrate Christmas will receive new clothes and small gifts.

It’s common for children to obtain firecrackers and light them off in celebration, despite it being illegal in the country.

The Christmas Day meal consists of peas, beans, dates, figs, and grapes.

For families that can afford it, roast meats are often included, usually meat or fish. People greet each other with “Eid Milad Majid!” which means “Merry Christmas” in Arabic.

It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.

Coptic Christian Christmas celebrations are grand, festive, and elaborate, and are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands all over the country of Egypt.

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Main Points About Christmas in Egypt

  1. Even with 15% Christian population, Egyptians still see Christmas as a religious affair.
  2. Christmas in Egypt is not typically on the 25th of December but on the 7th of January.
  3. From the 25th of November to the 6th of January, many Egyptians are fasting, breaking the fast with a vegan diet.
  4. There is a special midnight service on Christmas Eve. Family and friends meet up afterward to go eat their special Christmas meal.
  5. The Egyptian Christmas meal includes meat, dairy foods, rice, bread, and so much more. A cup of tea with kahk el eid is often offered to loved ones and relatives on Christmas morning to celebrate.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Christmas in Egypt

  1. Why does Egypt celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

    Majority of the people living in Egypt celebrate Christmas on 7th of January. It is believed by them that Jesus Christ was born on the 7th of January according to the Coptic Orthodox church, which follows the Coptic calendar.

  2. What do they eat in Egypt for Christmas?

    On the eve of Christmas, the people of Egypt eat a special dish which is known as fata. The fata is made up of rice, garlic, bread and boiled meat. The people sent this dish and also exchange it with the loved ones.

  3. Is Christmas a public holiday in Egypt?

    Every year the date of 7th January is a public holiday in Egypt. The holiday is according to the coptic calendar which shows the eve of Christmas on the 7th of January.

Conclusion

The few Christians in Egypt mostly belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and celebrate Christmas on January 7th which is the same as the 29th of the Coptic month Khiahk.

Leading up to Christmas, Christians in Egypt fast for 45 days, eating no meat or dairy and before Christmas, all churches and Christian homes are decorated.

In church ceremonies and religious songs, the Coptic language is used. This is the old language of the nation, used before the Arabs came to Egypt.

Word Cloud for Christmas in Egypt

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Egypt. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

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References

  1. https://stepfeed.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-christmas-in-egypt-9877
  2. https://www.ask-aladdin.com/egypt-travel-tips/coptic-christmas/
  3. https://www.memphistours.com/blog/your-guide-to-spending-christmas-and-new-year-s-in-egypt