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How to celebrate Christmas in Egypt?

Christmas in Egypt might spark some curiosity, because, as we know, Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country. However, December is the month we all look forward to, and with all passion, many of us said that during this month they are in the spirit of Christmas.

During this same period, we feel the desire to travel and learn about different places. Have you thought about traveling to Egypt during Christmas and spending a New Year in a country like this different culture? Surely you will have a lot of doubts about what a country like Egypt looks like during Christmas.

Egypt is always a preferable country for all foreigners, remember that spending Christmas in Egypt is a traditional thing for most foreigners, given that the temperature and nature of the climate and the sea and the desert and Egyptian food are the main reasons to visit the country of ancient pharaohs and it makes you make a nice comparison between Egypt and other countries especially on this exceptional occasion.

christmas in egypt

So, we invite all solo travelers, couples, and families to read this article if you are interested in how to live the Christmas holidays in Egypt and what are the traditions of the Egyptian people on Christmas and New Year?

Here you will find what we will cover in this article:

  1. History of Egyptian Christmas
  2. Coptic Christmas
    1. Santa Claus and Christmas trees
  3. How do they celebrate Christmas in Egypt?
    1. Christmas traditions in Egypt
    2. Christmas traditions on the Hotels & Nile Cruises
  4. New Year’s Eve in Egypt, all you need to know.
  5. Travel to Egypt at Christmas.
  6. How is the weather in Egypt on Christmas?
  7. New Year’s trips to Egypt
    1. Is December a good time to visit Egypt?
  8. Tips for excursions at Christmas time in Egypt
  9. Our conclusion: how to spend a nice Christmas holiday in Egypt?

 

1- The history of Egyptian Christmas

The Christmas festival including the Christmas tree is said to have its origins in Egypt. The Egyptians would have used twelve-limbed palm trees as a symbol for a closed year at the winter solstice – and our Christmas tree is said to go back to this custom. Incidentally, the birthdays of their sun deities were celebrated on this day.

The sacred month in which Coptic Christmas takes place is called Kiahk, and if you are in Egypt during this period we advise you not to miss this beautiful anniversary. Every Saturday the faithful participate in a special liturgy in which they pray with beautiful songs that animate the mass.

During the 43 days preceding Christmas, from November 25 to January 6 the faithful observe a particular fast, a real vegan diet in which they renounce meat and all its derivatives. This diet is called the “holy feast of the Nativity”, which however can be avoided if you are too weak or for other health reasons.

According to the most famous statistics, it is claimed that most foreigners celebrate Christmas and New Year in Egypt at the Red Sea in Marsa Alam and Sharm El Sheikh admiring the serene water of the Sea and watching the colorful coral reef under the sea.

Read our guide about

Easter traditions in Egypt – How to celebrate Easter in Egypt?

 

2- Coptic Christmas

For practicing Coptic Christians, the month leading up to Christmas ( Kiakh ) is lined with special practices because, particularly, in Coptic Christian churches on Saturday night, praise songs are sung, and early in the morning at around 5 am you attend Sunday Mass.

Book a day tour to explore the old churches in Cairo with our Old Cairo Tour

Also, since November (45 days before Christmas) a special diet restricted to any product of animal origin (even butter) begins, a vegan diet could be said to be a type of discipline of control over the body, known among the Christians as “the fast of the Nativity”. Topics such as discipline, sacrifice, donation, and generosity to others are common at this time.

Discover the most famous sights in Coptic Cairo

Santa Claus and Christmas trees

The image of Santa Claus ( Baba Noel ), which symbolizes the spirit of bestowal and generosity, is common and even Muslim children are influenced by the image of Baba Noel. The Baba Noel also carries a bag with gifts and enters the window (since there are no chimneys in Egypt). On the 6th and 7th of January, children receive symbolic gifts or small amounts of money to buy sweets and chocolates. We also see Christmas lights and trees in shopping malls and some public decorations with Christmas motifs on city streets.

3- How do they celebrate Christmas in Egypt?

Christmas Celebrating traditions in Egypt

Food, decorations, traditions, and festivities, as in the rest of the world are characteristic of Christmas, and in Egypt, it is no exception!

Most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and have some very particular traditions for Christmas.

Like most Christians in Egypt, they belong to the Orthodox church that celebrates Christmas on January 7 where the fast is observed for 45 days from November 25 to the night of January 6, and during these days people do not consume products of meat, poultry, or dairy products.

Before Christmas, all churches and Christian houses are decorated with trees, lights, and small cribs. And on Christmas Eve each person goes to the churches with new clothes as if they were going to enjoy the joy of a party.

In the majestic St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, the Pope of the Orthodox Church begins the ceremony at 11 pm. When the Christmas service ends, people go home to eat a special meal known as Fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic, and boiled meat.

And it is traditional to visit friends and neighbors taking a candy called Kahk that is also eaten by Muslims when the feast of Eid El Fitr after Ramadan is celebrated.

Hey! don’t miss to check the Top 13 Holidays & Festivals in Egypt in 2021

Christmas traditions on the Hotels & Nile Cruises

Christmas in Egypt

The Egyptians know how important Christmas is to tourists. That is why some of the hotels are already trimming their interiors for Christmas at the end of November: there are Santa Clauses, reindeer, and of course everything colorful and with lots of light. Sometimes the animation pulls up Santa hats and Christmas carols sound out of the loudspeakers.

Not only are palm trees illuminated, but there are also real Christmas trees. Of course, there is a special evening buffet or Christmas menu in the à la carte restaurants on Christmas Eve. The decoration then stays on until the Coptic Christmas festival.

 

4- New Year’s Eve in Egypt, all you need to know.

The end of the year is synonymous with sharing, fraternization, being with those who do us well, and one way to live it all is by traveling. Travel during the end of the year became very frequent, and more and more tourists are looking for a special destination with interesting activities and itineraries. Egypt ended up in this list of destinations for the December holidays, several itineraries generally include the classic itineraries from Cairo with a cruise on the Nile River (sailing between Luxor and Aswan ).

Check out the best Cairo Holiday Packages that include the most famous classical packages to Egypt.

Christmas festivities abound in December as well. Tourist-oriented attractions and hotels know that most people celebrate Christmas on December 25, and many plan special events during that time as well. So, if you want a pleasant and extended Christmas holiday, which runs from mid-December to January, Egypt is the right place!

The highlights of both Christmas and New Year celebrations take place in hotels with special dinners or on the River Nile Cruises, and of course, the country’s postcard would not be left out, the Giza Pyramids are lit up by the reflection of the fireworks in the passage of the year. Also on New Year’s Eve in Egypt, several hotels organize dinners with shows by great local artists.

 

5- Travel to Egypt at Christmas: the most beautiful places during the holidays

christmas in egypt

Egypt is a tourist destination that increasingly attracts foreigners. A trip to Egypt makes travelers always partying whatever the time of year, as it is a very joyful territory with many festivals.

Luxury on the Red Sea, shopping and culture in the big cities, lonely in the desert, or on a discovery tour through the temples of Upper Egypt.

1. Cairo

The metropolis with millions not only offers world-famous sights such as the pyramids of Giza, the citadel of Saladin, or the death mask of Tutankhamun – the capital also invites you to go shopping. The large malls are lavishly decorated in the run-up to Christmas and Christmas trees are also set up. But you can also browse for gifts in the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

2. Luxor

Above all, the luxury hotels & Nile cruises in the Upper Egyptian cities organize festive Christmas parties with gala menus and dinner shows for their guests. But don’t miss the opportunity to pay a visit to the buildings of the pharaohs such as the Karnak Temple or the Valley of the Kings when the temperatures are pleasant. Book an attractive Nile cruise trip on the Nile at Christmas & New Year.

3. Hurghada

Whether animators with Santa Claus hats, brightly flashing Christmas trees in the hotel lobbies, or Santa Clauses riding on camels – the Red Sea has a lot to offer guests. And of course, there is princely dining in the resorts on the holidays. In the El Gouna district, there is even a Christmas market with mulled wine and gingerbread.

 

6- How is the weather in Egypt at Christmas?

Egypt and cold temperatures, that supposedly don’t fit. But watch out: the temperatures can get into single digits in January! But only when the sun has set. For December, January and February we therefore strongly recommend that you pack a warm sweater or jacket for the evening.

The sea is still over 20 degrees in the winter months, so you can swim in it. The sun manages to warm the air temperature to at least 23 degrees – in the shade! This means that it can be over 30 degrees in the sun – only the wind is cold. But there is wind protection on the beach and the pools are mostly protected by the hotel building.

Christmas in Egypt

7- New Year’s trips to Egypt

One of the travelers’ favorite choices is Egypt Nile Cruises, crossing the river and exploring ancient temples is certainly a unique way to spend the Christmas season. At this time, cruises serve festive meals, music, decoration, parties, and entertainment. The Nile River is also the perfect place to start the new year on the right foot.

If you are a traveler who wants to gain insight into historic Christian traditions, there is no better place than the Monastery of Santa Catarina, officially known as the Sacred Monastery of Mount Sinai. It was built in the 6th century under the orders of the Byzantine emperor Justinian and remains in operation today.

The monastery closes its doors for Christmas and New Year celebrations, but you can plan your visit before or after the holidays. Still at Sinai, you can walk to the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

There are two basic routes for this walk: the so-called “Steps of Penance”, which is an appropriate path for the Advent season, and the other is wider and more pleasant and can be taken on foot or by camel. At the top of the mountain, there is a small chapel and a breathtaking panoramic view.

Egypt is a home full of incredible and remarkable stories. When visiting this incredible country, you will get to know unique traditions and rich culture. The Christmas and New Year celebrations are chosen as a great occasion to visit Egypt.

Before traveling to this wonderful country, especially if it is at Christmas, we must first inform ourselves about its traditions and festivals as we may get some surprises. Do not be afraid when traveling to Egypt because its inhabitants are extraordinary people, very friendly and supportive.

Is December a good time to visit Egypt?

Definitely Yes! and you will find many options for Christmas tours to Egypt. Egypt combines fun and adventure for your vacation along with the opportunity to visit certain places that are very important for Christmas.

Christmas in Egypt

8- Tips for excursions at Christmas time in Egypt

  1. Especially at Christmas time, it is advisable to take excursions to follow in the footsteps of the Coptic Christians.
  2. Another highlight is the rock church in Cairo, which can only be reached if you drive through the “garbage district”. Egyptians live here who sort the garbage and earn a living with it.
  3. The cooler time is particularly suitable to visit Luxor as it is always a little warmer in Luxor. Now you can visit the Valley of the Kings with pleasant temperatures, which offers no shade.
  4. A trip by quad or jeep into the desert is much more pleasant in winter than in summer.
  5. Of course, diving is also on the program in winter! You can go diving and snorkeling with complete peace of mind. Only when you get out of the water does the wind appear extremely cool. So make sure to bring a change of clothes with you.

 

9- Our conclusion: how to spend a nice Christmas holiday in Egypt?

Holiday travel at the end of the year is a magical experience that mixes food, decorations, traditions, festivities, and all the eclectic mix that we can find. You may not consider Egypt at Christmas, after all, it is a country with a Muslim majority – but you will find that Egyptians really get into the festive spirit.

You can do many things at Christmas, for example, take a nice cruise on the Nile and have a nice coffee and visit other Egyptian cities such as Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, Hurghada, Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh, and Cairo, the capital of and go shopping from the largest and most famous supermarkets in Egypt especially in Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam, visit the Egyptian museum and the Egyptian pyramids and the tower of Cairo, or take beautiful photos in front of the sphinx or during a beautiful Nile cruise to Luxor and Aswan.

Do not miss the opportunity to book your holiday to Egypt and send your request now to spend a different and unique Christmas with us!

Book Egypt Vacation Packages online here

About the author

Magdy Fattouh (Migo) is a creative content marketer and expert in search engines for over 5 years. He manifests his passion in his role as a Creative Content Writer especially in travel where he strives to evoke a strong sense of place in his write-ups.

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