How to Celebrate Christmas and New Year in Egypt

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If you’re planning a trip to Hurghada, Egypt, during the Christmas season, you may be wondering if Christmas is celebrated in Egypt. The short answer is yes!

Christmas is celebrated in Egypt, differently to Western countries.

Egypt has a significant Christian population, with the majority of Christians being Coptic Orthodox. The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th, known as the Feast of the Nativity.

The Christmas season in Egypt is Kiahk, it lasts for 43 days, starting on November 25th and ending on January 6th. During this time, you’ll see many decorations and celebrations throughout the country, including in Hurghada.

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The Significance of January 7th

Christmas is celebrated on January 7th instead of December 25th. This is because the Coptic Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West.

Coptic Orthodox Church and the Julian Calendar

The Coptic Orthodox Church has unique traditions and practices. The church follows the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC and used until the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582. The Julian calendar is based on a solar year of 365.25 days, which is slightly longer than the 365.2425-day Gregorian calendar. As a result, the Julian calendar falls behind the Gregorian calendar by 13 days every 100 years.

Coptic Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Coptic Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, after a 43-day fasting period called “The Holy Nativity Fast,” when people consume only vegan products.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has a liturgy or service on Christmas Eve that might last until four in the morning. The service includes hymns, prayers, and a sermon. After the service, families gather to share a meal and exchange gifts. On Christmas Day, people attend another liturgy at church, followed by more celebrations with family and friends.

If you’re looking to celebrate Christmas in Egypt, Hurghada is a popular destination with its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and festive atmosphere. Many hotels and resorts in Hurghada offer special Christmas packages that include traditional meals, decorations, and entertainment.

The night sky

Christmas Traditions in Egypt

Spending Christmas in Egypt? The holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm, especially in Hurghada. The celebrations are a unique blend of religious observances and festive traditions that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Religious Observances and Church Services

Egypt has a significant population of Coptic Christians, who celebrate Christmas on January 7th after a 43-day fasting period called the Holy Nativity Fast. During this period, they consume only vegan products. On Christmas Eve, many attend a special liturgy at church, followed by a festive meal with family and friends.

Festive Foods and Unique Traditions

Egyptians celebrate Christmas with special sweet biscuits called “ka’ak”, made with a variety of ingredients such as dates, nuts, and sesame seeds. Families also prepare a festive meal that usually includes roast lamb, rice, and vegetables.

In addition to these traditions, you’ll find that many Egyptians decorate their homes with Christmas lights and ornaments, and some even exchange gifts. Overall, Christmas in Egypt is a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate the holiday season in their unique way.

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Cultural Aspects of Christmas in Egypt

If you’re planning to visit Hurghada in Egypt at Christmas, you might be wondering how the locals celebrate this festive occasion. In Egypt, Christmas is primarily a religious celebration, and it is an important day for both Christians and Muslims. Here are a few cultural aspects of Christmas in Egypt that you might find interesting.

Decorations and Greetings

During the Christmas season, you can see some festive decorations in Hurghada, such as Christmas trees and lights, especially in Christian neighborhoods. Egyptians greet each other with “Merry Christmas” or “Eid Milad Saeed” in Arabic, which is the equivalent of “Happy Birthday” for Jesus. You might also hear the phrase “Kul Sana Wa Inta Tayeb,” which means “May every year find you in good health” in Arabic.

Gift Giving and Social Practices

In Egypt, gift-giving is not as common as it is in Western countries. However, it is still a tradition for families to exchange gifts on Christmas day. It is also customary for Egyptians to wear new clothes on Christmas day, especially for children. Families gather together to enjoy a festive meal. It usually includes traditional Egyptian dishes such as roasted lamb, stuffed vine leaves, and aromatic rice.

A local market in Cairo, Egypt

Christmas Among Different Communities

Christian Denominations and Celebrations

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, but it is also home to a significant number of Christians. The majority of Christians in Egypt are Coptic Orthodox Christians, who follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Other Christian denominations also celebrate Christmas on December 25th.

The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas with a 43-day fasting period called “The Holy Nativity Fast.” During this time, people consume only vegan products. On Christmas Eve, Christians attend church services. After the service they return home to feast on a traditional meal that includes meat, rice, and other dishes.

Christmas in a Predominantly Muslim Country

Despite being a predominantly Muslim country, Egypt celebrates Christmas with great enthusiasm. The streets of Hurghada, a popular tourist destination in Egypt, are decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. Many Muslims also join in the celebrations, exchanging gifts and greetings with their Christian friends and neighbours.

In recent years, the Egyptian government has also made efforts to promote Christmas as a tourist attraction. Many hotels and resorts in Hurghada offer special Christmas packages and events, including Christmas dinners and parties.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Christmas observed on the 7th of January in Egypt?

Christmas is celebrated on January 7th in Egypt. This is because the majority of Christians in the country belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which follows the Julian calendar. This calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world. That’s why Christmas is observed on a different date.

What are the traditional ways Egyptians celebrate Christmas?

Egyptians celebrate Christmas with religious devotion and joyous celebration. Many attend church services, especially Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Homes are decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments, with people exchanging gifts and visit family and friends.

What festive dishes will I enjoy during Christmas in Egypt?

During the 43-day fasting period that precedes Christmas, known as the Holy Nativity Fast, Egyptians consume only vegan products. On Christmas Day, traditional dishes include fata, a soup made with bread, rice, and garlic, and roasted meats such as lamb or beef. Desserts such as kahk, a sweet biscuit, are also popular.

Could you share some interesting trivia about Christmas in Egypt?

Did you know that not many people in Egypt are Christians? However, a lot of people in the country like to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday? Christmas is becoming increasingly commercialised, and major supermarkets sell Christmas trees, decorations, and food.

In Egypt, what alternative name does Santa Claus have?

Santa Claus name is Baba Noel.

How does one wish others a Merry Christmas in the Egyptian dialect?

To wish someone a Merry Christmas in the Egyptian dialect, you can say “Kol sana wa inta tayeb”, which translates to “Every year and you’re fine”.
Hurghada, a popular tourist destination on the Red Sea, has beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. It’s a great place to visit during the Christmas season, with many hotels and resorts offering special packages and events. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or dance the night away, Hurghada has something for everyone.