Egyptian Traditions: What Do They Call Christmas in Egypt?

What do they call Christmas in Egypt? Christmas is a festive season celebrated worldwide, with each country infusing its own unique traditions and customs into the holiday spirit. In Egypt, a country with a rich history and diverse cultures, Christmas holds special celebrations for the Christian community. 

In this article, we’ll dig deep into the Egyptian Christmas experience and explore what this joyous occasion is called in the land of the Pharaohs.

What Do They Call Christmas in Egypt?

In Egypt, Christmas is referred to as “El Milad” or “Eid Milad” in the Arabic language. The Coptic Orthodox Christian community, which constitutes a significant portion of Egypt’s population, nearly 15% of the Egyptian population, celebrates Christmas on January 7th, following the Julian calendar. 

The term “El Milad” means the religious and cultural significance attached to the birth of Jesus Christ in the Egyptian context. Egyptian Christmas is marked by special church services, family gatherings, and the exchange of joyous wishes among them.

what do they call christmas in egypt

When is Christmas in Egypt?

In Egypt, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th because the Coptic Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar due to some religious observances. That is why Egypt celebrates Christmas on January 7th, while many other Christians around the world celebrate it on December 25th, according to the Gregorian calendar. 

What Do They Call Santa in Egypt?

What do people in Egypt call Santa? In Egypt, Santa Claus is often referred to as “Baba Noel” or “Papa Noel”. Papa Noel is the iconic figure associated with gift-giving and spreading festive cheer during the Christmas season. 

Although the Papa Noel term may have Arabic influences, the concept of Santa Claus is recognized and embraced in the country, especially in areas where Coptic Christmas is celebrated.

what do they call christmas in egypt

How Do You Say Merry Christmas in Egypt?

What do they call Christmas in Egypt? To say “Merry Christmas” in Egypt, where Arabic is the official language, you can use the phrase “عيد ميلاد مجيد”, which is pronounced by “Id Milad Majid”. This phrase is an Arabic translation of “Merry Christmas” that is commonly used to convey festive wishes during the Christmas season in Egypt.

Does Egypt have Christmas Holidays?

After we know the reason for what they call Christmas in Egypt, we should understand if there are Christmas holidays. It’s essential to note that Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, and Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are the major public holidays observed in the country.

Although Christmas is recognized for the Coptic Christian population, it is an official public holiday for the entire country, and all Egyptians may take time off work or school to participate in festive activities.

what do they call christmas in egypt

What Do They Eat for Christmas in Egypt?

In Egypt, the Christmas celebration is marked by meals that include a variety of traditional dishes. Some of the common foods enjoyed during the Christmas season in Egypt include:

  • Roasted Meat: These dishes are often central to the Christmas feast. Families may prepare special dishes and invite their families and friends to gather on that day.
  • Béchamel Pasta: This dish is a delicious and beloved dish in Egypt. This meal consists of cooked pasta with a rich Béchamel sauce containing milk, butter, and flour.
  • Kahk: These dishes are traditional Egyptian sweets that are often associated with celebrations, including Christmas and Ramadan. The Kahk are small, sweet cookies made with flour, sugar, and butter, and they are usually filled with a mixture of nuts and honey.
  • Mulukhiyah Soup: This soap is made from a green leafy vegetable that is often used to make a nutritious soup. While not exclusive to Christmas, it is a popular dish in Egyptian households and may be part of the holiday menu.

what do they call christmas in egypt

Fun Facts About Christmas in Egypt

After we dig deep into what they call Christmas in Egypt, we should have a look at the fun facts about Christmas in Egypt. Here are the following: 

  • Coptic Orthodox Celebration: Christians in Egypt celebrate Christmas on January 7th because the majority of Egyptian Christians are Coptic Orthodox.
  • Festive Decorations: Although Christmas is a minority celebration in Egypt, especially in comparison to Islamic holidays, you can still find festive decorations in Christian areas. Streets, churches, and homes are adorned with colorful lights and decorated Christmas trees.
  • Coptic Nativity Fast: The Christmas season is preceded by a 43-day Nativity Fast, which is observed by Coptic Orthodox Christians. This period involves fasting from certain foods, increased prayer, and spiritual reflection in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth, according to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  • Multicultural Celebrations: In Egypt, Christmas is not only celebrated by the Christian community but is also embraced as a time of joy and festivities by friends and neighbors of Muslim religious backgrounds.
  • Visit to Church: On Christmas Day, families often attend church services together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, and expressing gratitude.
  • Family Gatherings: This day is a time for Coptic families reunions and gatherings in Egypt. Families come together to share meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

To Sum Up

In conclusion, Christmas in Egypt is a unique and culturally rich celebration, marked by the distinct traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Christian community. This day is referred to as “El Milad” in Arabic, the festivities extend beyond religious observances to embrace a blend of traditional customs and a spirit of joy that transcends religious boundaries. 

From the cherished Kahk cookies to the vibrant decorations and the 43-day Nativity Fast, Christmas in Egypt reflects a harmonious blend of spiritual devotion, familial bonds, and a multicultural ethos. 

The warmth of its people, the beauty of its landscapes, and the grandeur of its monuments make holidays in Egypt one of the favorite options for tourists.
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