Egypt is among the most richly historied countries on Earth. Over the years, many different peoples have settled here – including a thriving community of Coptic Christians, among whom Christmas is among the most important events on the Calendar. Christians account for 10-15% of the population, and the vast majority of these belong to the Coptic church.
Of course, alongside Christmas comes the New Year, which sees Egyptians of every religion come together in celebration. If you’re planning on visiting the country, you’ll get a unique perspective on a familiar time of year.
Coptic Christmas Extravaganza
Among Coptic Christians, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. This is because of a discrepancy between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian one used throughout the West.
During the forty-three days leading up to Christmas, Coptic Christians observe a period of fasting. They shun meat in favour of a plant-based diet (although you can be exempted from this for health reasons).
On the day itself, celebrants attend a church service before gathering for a feast. On the menu is a combination of all of the things that Christians have been shunning for the previous month, as well as a special kind of cookie called the Kahk.
Welcoming the New Year, Egyptian Style
Before we arrive at Christmas, of course, there’s the small matter of the New Year to deal with. Egyptians take New Year very seriously, with a number of traditions and events used to mark the occasion.
The partying is particularly intense around the major cities like Cairo, where tourists are most heavily concentrated. You can expect to welcome in the New Year in these places with a combination of street parties and firework displays. If you’ve ever watched fireworks over the Pyramids on New Year’s Eve, then you might have wanted the chance to travel to this part of the world, and see those fireworks for yourself. A trip to Egypt provides that opportunity!
Winter Wonders in the Land of the Pharaohs
Egypt comes with scorching temperatures throughout the year. But December brings with it plenty of cold weather in certain parts of the country. If you’re looking to ski, then you might venture to the Ski resort and Snow Park at the Mall of Egypt in Cairo – which was the first of its kind constructed in Africa.
The major tourist attractions, like the Pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, and Cairo Tower are all much less crowded at this time of year, too. And, since the weather is much milder, you’ll actually be able to spend more time out in the day.
December also happens to be an excellent time of year to take an Egyptian river cruise along the mighty Nile. The river extends for hundreds of miles south from the Mediterranean , and takes passengers through Cairo, as well as the Valley of Kings in Luxor, where some of the most important tombs in the country are to be found.
Much of the appeal of a cruise of this kind stems from its simplicity. You’ll know exactly where you’re going to be staying every night, but you’ll still get all of the diversity that the country has to offer. One day you might be exploring the treasures of Tutankhamun; the next you might be walking the back streets in Cairo’s historic quarters.
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