Christmas Around The World – Egypt
We last looked at Denmark to see how the Danes celebrated Christmas.
Today we travel to North-East Africa and have a look at how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt.
When you think of Egypt you are likely to immediately picture pyramids and sphynx. But did you know that there are over 130 pyramids discovered in Egypt, built as tombs for the rulers of Ancient Egypt, the pharaohs.
Tourism, agriculture and manufacturing are the three most important industries to Egypt, with most of the economic activity taking place along the Nile river valley.
Cairo has been the capital of Egypt for over 1000 years!
Christmas day is celebrated on the 7th January, with advent running from the 25th November through to the 06th January.
The majority religion in Egypt is Islam, with around 90% of the population Muslim. The other 10% are Christian (Coptic Orthodox Church) and they are the only ones who celebrate Christmas as a religious festival.
Christmas trees are sold by most major supermarkets. Hotels, parks, and big streets are decorated with lights and other Christmas decorations. However this is mainly for commercial purposes rather than religious purposes.
The month (Coptic month) leading up to Christmas is called ‘Kiahk‘ when people sing special songs on Saturday nights before Church service on the Sunday.
The fast during advent is known as ‘The Holy Nativity Fast‘, although people who are too ill or weak can be excused.
On 06th January (Christmas Eve), people will go to church for a special service at 9pm onwards, although the service usually starts around 10.30pm. Most services end just after midnight but others can go on until 4am.
On Christmas Day, family and friends get together for parties and festivities, ‘kahk‘ are given as gifts.
Christmas is becoming increasingly commercial in Egypt, and Baba Noel (Father Christmas) is a popular figure among children who will hopefully be left presents by him on Christmas Day.
The children will leave Baba Noel ‘kahk‘ in return.
During advent, Christians will fast and will go on, essentially, a vegan diet where they don’t eat anything containing animal products of any kind.
After the Christmas service, people will go home to feast.
The foods tend to all contain meat, eggs and butter, with a popular soup called ‘Fata’, which is a lamb soup containing bread, rice, garlic and boiled lamb.
‘Kahk‘ is a popular sweet biscuits similar to a cookie that is given as a gift on Christmas day (and as mentioned earlier, is left for Baba Noel on Christmas Eve).
Our next destination looks at how Estonia celebrates Christmas.