How to Celebrate an Egyptian Style Christmas

Egyptian painting of Aset/IsisChristmas is a very special festival in Egypt due to the fact that the Holy Family spent sometime here with Baby Jesus.

Unlike the other regions of the world, The Coptic Church is the Orthodox Church and in the Coptic Church Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. Then again, Advent is observed for forty days and during this period people are expected to fast eating no meat, poultry or dairy products.

Interestingly, in Egypt, Christmas season is not celebrated as a public holiday and the holiday only for the Christians. Even then the all pervading Christmas spirit encompasses everyone and it is a season of fun and festivities for everyone.

Here’s how to celebrate Christmas the Egyptian way.

A few suggestions

  1. Be prepared to fast for a period of 40 to 43 days. (Forty days of fast that Moses went through while receiving the Ten Commandments and the three days of fast associated with the miracle of moving the mountain of El Mokattam, an absolute Egyptian occurrence. Fasting requires refraining from eating meat, poultry or dairy products. This is called the ‘Lent fasting’ and has now been reduced to merely a week.Begin fasting from November 25th and continue right up to January 6th (Advent).
  2. Start celebrating in the last week leading up to Christmas itself. Begin by cooking to stock up for the feast and clean and spruce up the house and decorate it with colored lights.
  3. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments. Send out Christmas cards if you so desire.
  4. Attend the midnight mass and get the special bread called ‘qurban’ at the end of the service. The bread has a cross in the middle and 12 dots representing the 12 apostles.
  5. After the service go home to eat a special Christmas meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat.


  • On Christmas morning visit friends and neighbors and carry with you kaik, is a type of shortbread to give to the people you visit.
  • Wear new clothes on Christmas Eve.


  • Do not go overboard with your celebrations as Christmas is a low key affair in Egypt. Most of the Christmas sale proceeds go to different charities.

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