In Egypt, Christmas is celebrated by the Coptic Christian community, which makes up a significant portion of the Christian population in the country. Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, as the Coptic Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Egypt:
Christmas Eve is a significant part of the celebration. Coptic Christians attend a special Christmas Eve liturgy at their churches. The service typically begins in the evening and continues into the early hours of the morning.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Coptic Christians observe a period of fasting called the Nativity Fast. This fast is similar to Lent and involves abstaining from certain foods, including meat and dairy products, as well as increasing prayers and spiritual reflection.
Many Coptic Christian homes and churches are adorned with Christmas decorations, including nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and colorful lights. The decoration of the home and church is an important part of the festive atmosphere.
After the Christmas Eve liturgy, families return home to enjoy a festive meal together. The meal often includes special dishes such as "fata" (a traditional dish made with bread, rice, and lamb), roasted meats, and various traditional Egyptian desserts and pastries.
Christmas is a time for Coptic Christians to visit friends and family, exchange gifts, and offer greetings of "Eid Milad Saeid," which means "Merry Christmas" in Arabic.
In some Egyptian Christian communities, especially in rural areas, children and young people go caroling from house to house, singing Christmas carols and receiving small gifts or sweets in return.
Christmas is a time when many Egyptians, both Christian and Muslim, engage in acts of charity and kindness, including donating food and gifts to those in need.
In some areas, especially in larger cities, you may find fireworks and public celebrations to mark the occasion.
It's important to note that the way Christmas is celebrated in Egypt may vary among different regions and communities. While Coptic Christians have their unique traditions, Christmas is generally a time of joy, worship, family gatherings, and spreading goodwill among the Christian population in Egypt.
The Coptic Church is an Orthodox Church and in the Coptic Church Christmas is celebrated on the 7th January. Advent is observed for forty days and during this period people are expected to fast eating no meat, poultry or dairy products. Some people only do this during the last week of Advent.
On the Eve of Christmas everyone goes to church wearing a completely new outfit. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells, then people go home to eat a special Christmas meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat.
On Christmas morning people in Egypt visit friends and neighbors. They take with them kaik which is a type of shortbread, which they take with them to give to the people they visit and eaten with a drink known as shortbat. Christmas Day is a public holiday for Christians.