Holiday travel at the end of the year is a magical experience that mixes food, decorations, traditions, festivities, and all the eclectic mix that one can find. You might not consider Egypt at Christmas, after all, it’s a Muslim-majority country – but you’ll find that Egyptians get into the festive spirit.
Christmas is a significant and sacred event for the whole world. Following international research, they affirm that about 15% of the Egyptian population is Christian, belonging to the Orthodox Churches. Among its sacred holidays, this minority also celebrates Christmas, which, unlike the Catholic one, falls on 7 January. But to tell the truth that spending Christmas in Egypt has a fantastic feeling to try only to live and discover the history of our pharaohs.
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How is Christmas celebrated in Egypt?
We find various traditions and customs when discussing how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. Americans welcome Santa Claus, while Russians commemorate the arrival of Ded Moroz. The Argentines prepare salads and vital toné, while the Venezuelans make the traditional hallacas.
Each region has musical, gastronomic, and formal peculiarities to celebrate what many consider the most beautiful month of the year. But how is Christmas celebrated in Egypt? How do the festivals live in this society marked by history as old as humanity? Let’s see!
To understand how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt, it is necessary to be clear that it is a nation with a Muslim majority. Only 10% to 15% of the population professes the Christian faith, and they are the only ones who open the doors of their homes to this holiday. However, although the Muslim majority does not celebrate this holiday, they respect it and even practice fellowship to encourage the encounter in the Christian Christmas celebration.
Egyptian Christmas Traditions
1- It is celebrated on 7 January
The first peculiarity about how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt is the date. Unlike the rest of the world, where the birth of the son of God is remembered every 25 December, in Egypt, the feast is celebrated on 7 January. The celebration is preceded by a fast that lasts for 45 days, from 25 November to the night of 6 January. During that time, Egyptian Christians do not consume meat, poultry, or dairy products.
2- The decoration of houses and churches
Another specific point in how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt is thematic decoration. Before the day marked as Christmas, all churches and Christian homes dress to receive it. Lights in abundance and the classic cribs are part of the most distinctive elements.
3- The Christmas mass
And, like Christmas in many other parts of the world, the traditional Christmas mass is also celebrated in Egypt. Christians have the custom of buying new clothes for this day and wearing them for the first time on their church visits, just as if it were a big party. Those who live in the capital usually attend the beautiful St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, where the Pope of the Orthodox Church begins the ceremony at eleven o’clock at night.
4- Christmas dinner
And to talk about how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt is also to refer to its peculiar gastronomy. Once the Christmas mass is over, the tradition is that Christian families gather for a special meal. The typical dish of the night is a preparation called Fatteh, which consists of bread, rice, garlic, and boiled meat. It is also expected that at the end of dinner people go out to visit their friends. Kahk, traditional sweet cookies that are taken as a gift and are also eaten by Muslims after the month of Ramadan, cannot be missed on these visits.
5-The symbology of Christmas
All the display made by the Christian population in Egypt, despite being a notorious minority in the country, is because this festival is loaded with extraordinary symbolism. Christmas in Egypt is associated with the flight of the Holy Family to this region shortly after the birth of Jesus. According to the biblical story, when King Herod gave the order to kill all the newborns, thus wanting to defeat the prophecy that one of them would end up dethroning him, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egyptian lands, where they were able to keep the little one. With life. This passage that we find in the Christian Bible is deeply rooted in the emotionality of the Egyptians and the importance they give to these festivals.
6- The visit to Mount Sinai
When we talk about how Christmas is celebrated in Egypt, we also refer to those activities that locals and visitors prefer to honour the arrival of the son of God on earth. One of them is the visit to Mount Sinai. This was where Moses received the Ten Commandments, so it is an icon for the Christian religion. At the top of the mountain, there is a small chapel where the faithful go to deposit their prayers.
How to spend a lovely Christmas vacation in Egypt?
Surely you can do many things during Christmas in Egypt, for example, take a nice cruise on the Nile and visit other Egyptian cities such as Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, Hurghada, Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh, and Cairo, the capital of ‘Egypt and go shopping from the largest and most famous markets in Egypt, especially in Sharm el sheik and Marsa Alam, visit the Egyptian museum and the Egyptian pyramids and the Cairo tower, or take beautiful photos in front of the Sphinx or during a beautiful Nile cruise to Luxor and Aswan.
Warm golden Christmas.
Some of you know one or two famous places in Egypt, like the three pyramids, but the rest are not fully aware of the many magnificent attractions each city houses. So, if you are wondering which places you will visit in Egypt this Christmas, here are some suggestions.
The vacation usually starts with a tour of Cairo and Giza, where you will see the three pyramids, the Sphinx, the valley temple, the Egyptian museum, the citadel of Salah El Din, and the old mosques and churches of old Cairo.
The cities of Cairo and Giza have cold weather during Christmas, but you can still enjoy the sun and feel the warmth in the morning. Many adventure activities that you can do after visiting the three pyramids. You can practice sandboarding, quad biking, and camel rides around the pyramids. Each activity will last from half an hour to two hours with a guide from your company.
The excursions to Cairo and Giza are not over yet. Other spectacular pharaoh sites and pyramids exist in cities such as Saqqara, Dahshur, and Memphis. These sites are ancient pyramids built even before the great pyramids. Saqqara is considered the oldest stone structure in the world, and Memphis was the ancient capital of ancient Egypt before Thebes (now the city of Luxor).
This magical historical Christmas cannot be completed without a visit to the Egyptian Museum in the centre of Cairo, where Tutankhamun’s treasure room and the mummies exhibition are located. Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in the valley of the kings, and it was the first tomb discovered by their entire collection of his.
You can take a Coptic Christianity tour to be more spiritual. You will be amazed when you visit Old Cairo’s ancient churches and monasteries. Christmas is celebrated in Egypt on 7 January, but the churches are decorated on 25 December with Christmas trees and festive coloured ribbons. We highly recommend the Hanging Church of the Virgin Mary and the Church of Saint George.
Christmas on the beach.
Christmas has always been exceptional. Family and friends get together this time of year and have a fantastic time. Some people prefer to spend Christmas at the beach, but finding a warm place to take off your clothes and get a tan isn’t easy. We want to cheer you up and tell you that Red Sea cities are sunny most of the year, with very high temperatures in summer and warm in winter. Therefore, it is not impossible to lie on the soft white sand and relax by the seawater in January.
Hotels in these areas tend to go all out for Christmas, illuminating with lights and serving generous buffets. Once you’ve left the beach behind, you’ll return to find the Christmas spirit alive and well at your hotel.
Egypt is not just about the historical sites; it’s also about fun beach vacations and water activities; the coast’s Red Sea towns are among the best resorts and dive sites worldwide. The city of Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, and Marsa Alam are paradises on earth for having such unique ecosystems and environments. Also, the incredible marine life in the Red Sea depths, where rare fish species and coral reef gardens are found. After finishing your Nile cruise during Christmas, you can have a beach vacation extension.
Diving or safari trips? Either way, you will have an experience of a lifetime.
Christmas with a cruise on the Nile.
Aswan City and Luxor are two enchanting destinations not to be missed at Christmas. Aswan consists mainly of the rocky Nile Island and Nubian Villages. You will be surprised by the clean air, the low population, and the calm atmosphere. The Abu Simbel temple is also part of Aswan, 3 hours away from the city centre. The temple was built by the great king Ramses the second, and only one tour is needed to visit this temple. You will pass through the elephantine island, which has the oldest nilometer, dates back to the 3rd dynasty, and the Khnum temple.
Transfer to Luxor, the largest museum in the world. Luxor is divided into two banks.
The west bank that ancient Egyptian priests thought was the gate to the afterlife. So, they dedicated the West Bank to funerary temples and royal tombs. You will find most of the ancient pharaonic cemeteries on this site, such as the valley of the kings, the valley of the queens, the valley of the nobles, and the temple of Hatshepsut.
The east bank, however, was dedicated to the gods and temples of worship, and you will visit the Karnak temple and Luxor complex, which are committed to the sun god Amun. Luxor is a work of art, and you should try the hot air balloons to see the city from above and contemplate privileged views of this exceptional landscape, Watch the sunrise over the valleys. They are dedicated to the sun god Amun.
Luxor is a work of art; you should try the hot air balloons to see the city from above and contemplate privileged views of this exceptional landscape. Watch the sunrise over the valleys. They are dedicated to the sun god Amun. Luxor is a work of art, and you should try the hot air balloons to see the city from above and contemplate privileged views of this exceptional landscape. Watch the sunrise over the valleys.
What holidays in Egypt will make your experience? It will take you through all the experiences, mainly the pharaonic culture and archeological sites. You can make your trip even more exciting by taking a hot air balloon ride to see Luxor from above and get privileged views of this exceptional landscape. Watch the sunrise over the valleys. The Nubian villages of Aswan are one of the good options you can have on your Christmas or New Year trip. The sparsely populated hamlets are made of mud and carved stone, the houses are colourful and painted with palm trees and crocodiles, and the air is fresh and clear. The Nubian people speak their languages and have their traditions.
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Finally, as you will see, Egypt is home to one of the world’s richest and most varied histories. By visiting this wonderful country, you will experience the beautiful cultures and traditions that make it unique. The Christmas and New Year season is a great time to visit, whether you are sincerely interested in Coptic culture or love Christmas.
One last thing you should know? “Merry Christmas” in Egyptian Arabic is “Eid Milad Majied.” Enjoy your holidays!