Because of the time the Holy Family spent in Egypt with the infant Jesus, Christmas is a very special celebration in Egypt. In Egypt, Copts, who are Egypt's traditional Christians, have their own Pope who is the head of the Coptic churches of Egypt and the Sudan. Copts consider St. Mark to be their first Pope. He introduced Christianity to Egypt, and for hundreds of years, Alexandria was the home of the Pope. Today his cathedral is in Cairo, where services are usually held in the ancient Coptic language.
A surprising number of Egyptian traditions have survived from ancient Pharonic Egypt, and perhaps one of the most striking is the Coptic calendar. Each of the names of the twelve months in the Coptic calendar retains a vestige of an ancient deity or feast, no doubt reflecting the conservative nature of the inhabitants of the Nile Valley.
Egyptian Orthodox Christians (or Coptic Christians) celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7th, a date equivalent to the 29th day of the Coptic month of "kiohk, or Khiahk", though this date in relation to the western calendar advances over long periods of time. Of course, in many other countries Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, though celebrating Christmas on this date is not unique to the Copts. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates Christmas on January 7th. The difference in the dates comes from the difference between the Coptic and Gregorian calendars. This means, for example, that beginning March 1st of 2100 AD, the Coptic Christmas will be celebrated on the 8th day of January in relation to the Western calendar. . . .Christmas in Egypt is not limited to the Copts. Certainly there are, though limited, a number of other Christian sects in Egypt, some of whom celebrate Christmas on the same day as in the west. However, westerners themselves have a long tradition of spending Christmas in Egypt, and more than a few hotels and other facilities cater to western style Christmas affairs.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Christmas in Egypt today
See the above page for more.