Envisage yourself on the sandy beaches of Egypt on a Christmas eve, the turquoise waters of Nile, a little relaxation on the Red Sea in Dahab, an adrenaline pumping Mount Sinai climb, a wild safari in the undulating and mammoth landscapes; in a world far away from the hustle bustles of lives.
Well yes, the dream can become a reality. You can now spend quality time in the warmth of the Egyptian climate on your Christmas holidays. So, it’s time to take out your bathing suits and tanning lotions for a sizzling warm Christmas in Egypt.
In recent times, Egypt has evolved as a major attraction for millions of tourists every year particularly for Christmas celebrations because of its round the year warm sunshine and definite pre-historic sites appeal. Egypt has its own extraordinary eminence when it comes to the merriment of Christmas Eve. It has developed into a convention to rejoice this occasion each and every year with no jargons of religion.
Being the biggest events of the year, Christmas is celebrated all around the globe with joy and happiness, even in Egypt where there is no Christian majority. In Egypt 15% of the total population are Christians. But, that doesn’t affect the celebrations of Christmas.
Christmas is not only confined to Christians only, many of the other people of the country like to participate in the Christmas celebrations. The streets and Hotel buildings are decorated with lights depicting the celebrations.
Astoundingly you can find an assortment of Christian Stores, belly dancing Santa, and a lot more in many areas in and around Cairo and other major cities of Egypt, with the last 25 to 30 days being the most thrilling and worth participating in. Most of the Christmas celebration in effect starts in the last week up to the Christmas day. Christmas has now turned into the conventional occasion in the schedule of Egypt.
The history of the Egyptian-western Christmas fall back to the late 19th and early 20th century when many of the rich European families would visit Egypt for the Christmas in particular. The most interesting part of it would be the transformation of the Mena House, specifically for Christmas. The whole floor was turned into complete winter scenery having artificial snow and trees with frost over them. Many of the fireplaces were illuminated by the log fire. Elegantly styled and dressed up women along with their partners would continue to pour into the venue until late evening
Coptic Orthodox Christians
The Christian minority of Egypt belongs to a Coptic Orthodox Church. They are the traditional Christians who have significant importance as the ones who have spent time with Jesus. This class of Christians has their own popes who are also the heads of the Coptic churches. In the Coptic churches, the Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January (as in Ethiopia), unlike the rest who celebrate their Christmas on 25th of December.
This community has some unique traditions to celebrate the event. As a ritual, all the Coptic Orthodox Christians fast. And the fasting lasts for 40 days. This is called ‘The Holy Nativity Fast’. The holy month, known as Kiahk, is the Christian month of fasting with the Christmas serving as a treat in the end, during the fasting period the Christians eat nothing related with meat like poultry or dairy products. The last week of the month of Kiahk is when the celebrations are at the peak and last until the Christmas.
Christmas celebrations include shopping, cooking scrumptious food and sweet dishes and decorating and ornamenting houses with the vibrant lights. Like every other Christian Coptic Orthodox Christians also never forget the Christmas trees. Many of the Christmas trees are artificial, nevertheless, some being real too. Invitation cards along with greeting cards are also sent out to all the loved ones.
On the Christmas Eve, that is the 6th of January, everyone (Coptic Christians) make an appearance in the church wearing new clothes. The prayers, conducted by the Pope usually inaugurate at the 11:00 PM and are broadcasted on Egyptian TV programs as well.
The interiors of the Church are festooned with hundreds of candles illuminating the building in honor of the candles that Joseph lit to keep the Virgin Mary from catching a cold on the night of the Nativity. The services of the Christmas Eve ended with the ringing of the church bells at midnight. After that, the people leave the Church and go back home where they eat Fata, a special meal that consists of rice, garlic, bread and boiled meat. Also, many families join others to celebrate the festival.
The Christmas day
When the Christmas day finally arrives in Egypt that is the 7th of January, everyone dresses up nicely and visit their friends, family and even their neighbors. On Christmas day all the old quarrels are forgotten, people forgive each other and greet one another with open arms. Christians believe that this gesture brings good luck to their homes.
While visiting the others a foot item called ‘kaik’ is taken along and given to the others. It’s a sort of a shortbread which is eaten up with a drink that is known as ‘shortbat’. Even the children are provided with a treat in the form of El’aidia, this feast includes a small amount of money for the children to buy themselves sweets, ice cream and toys. Obviously, this is of great interest for the children and is amongst the major reasons for them to get excited about.
At the time of the service, a special bread known as ‘Qurbaan’ is given to the people participating in the Egyptian Coptic Church’s services’ ceremony. This shortbread is prepared in very large quantities for the festival, so that it could be distributed among the people. Also, this bread has a very interesting appearance having a ‘cross’ in the middle which is furthermore surrounded by twelve dots. These twelve dots represent the twelve apostles of the Jesus Christ.
But if you wish to travel in Egypt during December 25th, you’ll find many places that celebrate Christmas on the same day as the west. Many of the Hotels and other businesses offer celebrations just the way they do in the United States or other Christian countries. So, feel free to travel in Egypt during that period even with your family and children. And the choice of celebrating the Egyptian Christmas on the 7th of January is always there.
The Santa Clause
Talking about Christmas how can one forget the famous white beard man wearing red hat and dress, bringing gifts for the people. Yes! The Santa Clause. In Egypt, the Santa is known as Baba Noel that means Christmas Father
Egypt is known as the ‘birthplace of the Christmas Tree’. Previously, it was used as a symbol of the completion of the year by spraying twelve shoots on the Christmas tree with each shoot representing a month. The spray ritual of the palm tree was continued, and the branches of the Christmas tree were and still are decorated with burning tapers which were lit in an honor to Saturn. This was celebrated from 17th to the 21st of the December. It was the period of the Winter solstice. Later on, this ritual became part of the Christmas season.
The design of the Christmas tree in the museum of Cairo reflects the Coptic Orthodox Church’s blended with the Egyptian culture. And now Christmas tree decorations is one of those acts that attracts both the kids and the older people on this beautiful festival.
Must visit places
People from all over the world pour in to spend the Christmas holidays in Egypt as they find it nice and warm to spend the cold and chilly nights of December. Where on the other hand there are people who think of Egypt as the last place to spend their Christmas holidays.
Egypt’s famous archaeological sites have always been an attraction to the tourists. Of all the other places of Egypt, the three places of significant importance are Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, and Sharm El Naga. These can also be referred as the must-visit places even during the Christmas season.
Hurghada is a town in Egypt on its famous Red Sea Coast, proffering a breathtaking view of the gorgeous beaches enduring tones of blue and white. The place is a dream for the sun lovers, with rich waters and colorful aquatic life.
Sharm El Naga is situated about 30km south of Hurghada, and is one of the must-visit places of Egypt. It is located at the tip of the Sinai land. This is another breathtaking place with beautiful coral reefs. The Sharm El Sheikh, situated in the Sinai land is yet another admired tourist destination for the Christmas vacations in Egypt. Th renounced Ras Mohammed is located at a small distance from the tourist destination Sharm El Sheikh. This location is ideal for a hot Christmas beach break. The warm sun of the winters, elegant beaches, mesmerising deep seas and astounding marine life is just the perfect topping for a romantic Christmas eve. The Sharm El Sheikh is considered to be the best location for the sea lovers in particular who love to spend their time relaxing on the sandy beaches and swimming in the deep blue seas. Sharm El Sheikh also proudly proffers many 5-star luxury hotels rendering breathe taking private beaches where you can relax in a free atmosphere on your Christmas vacations in Egypt.
These places offer a good transport system having buses, train services and taxis, connecting them from North to South. For greater convenience travel guides are also available at very reasonable prices to add knowledge and spice to your excursion.
Christmas in Egypt is quite different from that celebrated in the west. Speaking of markets and commercialism one can see a particular difference as the markets are not as much crowded as one could expect them to be though people put all their efforts to make it as much commercial as possible. Local Christmas bazaars are organized for the support of the local charities. A portion of the profits made by these bazaars is dedicated to the charity personnel.
Tourists nowadays are quite thrilled to spend their vacations in Egypt, particularly during the Christmas eve so as to take pleasure from the cozy climate and by adding spice to their amusement by visiting some of the most renounced archaeological sites od Egypt. However, deciding when to stopover Egypt is a challenge. One needs to consider a number of issues and then make a decision in light of different priorities. Normally the peak journey season is from October to May for the reason that the weather is very comforting. So, if you are amongst those who are planning an amazing excursion in Egypt particularly on the Christmas Eve then we have a little advice for you. Make sure that you book your tickets in advance of the date because the Christmas season is utterly a high season for vacationers from around the globe to visit Egypt. It is not only difficult but also highly expensive to book your vocations in Egypt at the peak time.
So, just book your Christmas vacations in Egypt right away to take pleasure of the cozy winters at the most affordable rates and budgets. Reveal the mysteries of ancient Egypt, packed with amusement and Christmas cheers!