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

The celebration of Easter in Egypt has two very different moments: Coptic Christians follow the rites of the Coptic Christian Church in Coptic Cairo, founded by Saint Mark and Egypt as a whole celebrates the arrival of spring with Sham El Nessim.

Learn more about Easter traditions in Egypt.

  • When is Easter in Egypt?
  • How does Egypt celebrate Easter?
  • The feast of Sham el-Nessim – Why is Sham el Nessim celebrated?
  • Conclusion – Easter trips to experience traditions

Easter is known to be a Christian festival and in Egypt, the majority of the population belongs to Islam. In the land of the pharaohs, however, these two seemingly incompatible contradictions are no reason not to celebrate Easter together – even if for different occasions.

However, if you take a closer look, you will see some amazing parallels at the Easter of Christians and the originally pharaonic Sham el Nassem festival that all Egyptians celebrate, which are not just of a purely coincidental nature.

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Easter traditions in Egypt
Egyptian families celebrate Easter in a public park

Easter Monday has always been a public holiday in Egypt as it traditionally coincides with Sham el Nassem. Sham el Nassem is the Muslim spring festival with which the descendants of the pharaohs celebrated the end of winter. The customs and rituals used, the painting and eating of colored eggs, as well as fish pickled in salt, can be traced back to the pharaohs.

Eggs and fish are ancient pharaonic symbols that are associated with the god “Bramhat” – the god of eternity and survival. The egg is a symbol of rebirth – in the Pharaonic tradition as well as in Christianity. Salty fish indicate the mummification process that guarantees eternity and continued life. And the fish is also an ancient Christian symbol for Jesus.

Egyptian Copts articulate their joy in the resurrection of Jesus, just as they were always happy about the return of spring.

Read our article about Holidays & Festivals in Egypt in 2021


When is Easter in Egypt?

In Egypt, the day after Easter is known as Sham El Nessim, a national festival of the beginning of spring that dates back to ancient Egypt. In Egypt, Coptic Easter Monday is celebrated on the same day as Orthodox Easter Monday. The day is part of a broader spring festival called Sham El Nessim and a national holiday.

The date is different from Western Easter as the other Christian churches base the date of calculating Easter on the Gregorian calendar. But the Eastern Orthodox Church still uses the earlier Julian calendar to calculate dates of feasts, which includes Easter.

Easter is a religious festival that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Most Christians celebrate this day as a public holiday by taking a day off for the general population, schools, and most businesses. The event is based on the Julian calendar, just like in western countries. During this time, both Christians involve egg hunting, the myth of the legendary Easter Bunny, followed by Eastern parades with a variation on delicious Easter food.

Easter traditions in Egypt
Coloring eggs is one of the most common aspects of Easter celebration in Egypt


How does Egypt celebrate Easter? Easter traditions in Egypt.

Easter in Egypt is the high season for any true world traveler who dreams of traveling to the land of beauty. For more than 4000 years, ancient Egyptian civilization was able to attain immortality by discovering some of the earliest concepts of art and science and was able to take human conditions to new heights.

The ancient Egyptians were able to create some of the most incredible monuments and artifacts in the world, gaining immortality from the Pharaonic to the Coptic to the Islamic era.

Many Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which is often different from the Gregorian calendar used in many Western countries. Therefore, Orthodox Easter is often later than Easter, which is around March. Coptic Easter Sunday is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population and schools and most shops are closed.

Already the ancient Egyptians offered salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their deities during the spring festival known as Shemu. After the Christianization of Egypt, the feast was associated with Easter, because it also happened in the spring.

With the Islamic conquest of Egypt, the party was established on Easter Monday. Being the lunar Islamic calendar and therefore not fixed concerning the solar year, the date of Sham el-Nessim remained that linked to Christianity.

Easter traditions in Egypt
A painting of the pharaohs showing offerings to the gods on Easter

Common traditions in Egypt before Easter:

The Coptic Easter celebrations begin on Saturday evening with a ceremony that includes reading the psalm, singing the sacred hymns, and infusing the incense.

During the ceremony, all lights are turned off and on only when the resurrection is recalled. During Easter Sunday, the faithful go to church, visit relatives, exchange gifts and organize nice picnics in the open air in the most beautiful parks in the city, which are filled with festivals during this period.

Are you planning your Easter vacation to Egypt? These travel articles give you all the information you need when getting started planning your trip!

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The feast of Sham el-Nessim – Easter traditions in Egypt. (Why is Sham el Nessim celebrated?)

The feast of Sham el-Nessim always occurs following the Orthodox Easter, on Monday, and is celebrated indifferently by both Christians and Muslims as a secular national holiday, rather than as a religious holiday.

Traditional foods for this festival include the ever-present Fesikh (fermented mullet), boiled eggs, lettuce, and Malana, a green leafy vegetable.

Preferable food at the festival of Sham el Nessim:

Fesikh is to be precise the salty, dried and fermented gray mullet preserved in a pickle, the Egyptians eat it auspiciously, it is also a symbol of fertility that should be favored by its consumption.

In ancient times, the offering of this fish to the deities, according to tradition, would have ensured a good harvest.

The preparation process of the Fesikh is quite elaborate and is handed down from father to son in some families, it is interesting to know that the processing of this traditional food has created a real tradition, a craft, which in Egypt is known by the name of “Fasakhani”.

During the process, the fish meat is left to rest for a few months before being consumed. But this tradition is getting a little lost, and many people have started using white fish meat,

The inevitable hard-boiled eggs are painted with tempera and dried in the sun before being eaten. Some are real masterpieces. The coloring of eggs has remained a very common Easter tradition, in Egypt as well as in the rest of the world of course.

Hey! don’t forget to check our guide about Traditional Egyptian Food

Easter traditions in Egypt
Herring and Fesikh – the most famous Egyptian food in Sham El-Nessim


Conclusion – Easter trips to experience traditions

Egypt boasts an interesting historical heritage, very rich and varied as well as an enviable climate, the combination of these factors makes this country the ideal destination for the Easter 2021 holidays, an excellent time to enjoy the beauty of the country in a sweet climate and temperate.

Perhaps you would never have said it, but Egypt also knows this holiday, which is celebrated religiously by Coptic Christians, but not only the country of the ancient Egyptians hosts an occasion dedicated to spring almost concomitantly, it is called Sham el-Nessim, and it would seem to find the roots of the current Christian Easter.

So, are you planning your next Easter trip? How about Easter in Egypt?

Get a taste of the past on our trips to Egypt, where you walk in the footsteps of the pharaohs through ancient temples and monuments.

On your Egypt tour, spend your days in Cairo visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, then sail away on a Nile cruise to Luxor and Aswan by booking an Egypt Nile Cruise Package. Relax in the Red Sea and swim among playful dolphins and colorful corals.

Check the best time to visit Egypt when planning your trip to Egypt.

Easter traditions in Egypt
Egyptian family eating Herring and Fesikh

There are many opportunities and many new ideas for holidays in Egypt and Egypt travel offers to spend Easter 2021 In Egypt. Book your ideal trip now and leave everything to us to organize everything.

Easter is not only important for children. Easter is a time of year when the sunny days return, the flowers bloom, and the days get longer and warmer.

Check & book one of our best offers on Egypt Easter 2021. Thanks to our experience in organizing the best trips to Egypt, take a tour in Egypt to visit most classic sites such as the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Khan el-Khalili Market, and many more archaeological sites to visit adding that you can take a cruise on the Nile admiring the natural beauty and Egyptian history of our great pharaohs who wrote a very respectful history and civilization.

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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