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Christmas in Egypt: Spiritual Celebration in the Land of Pharaohs

Unraveling the Rich Cultural Tapestry of an Egyptian Christmas Celebration

Egypt, a country steeped in history and cultural richness, offers a unique perspective on the celebration of Christmas. With a significant Coptic Christian population, Christmas in Egypt is marked by religious observances, festive gatherings, and an array of traditional dishes. In this article, we will explore the customs and practices that define Christmas in Egypt, the festive events and activities that take place during the holiday season, and the traditional Egyptian dishes that are enjoyed by locals during this special time of the year.


Egyptian Christmas Traditions

Coptic Orthodox Christmas

The Coptic Orthodox Church, which represents the majority of Christians in Egypt, celebrates Christmas on January 7th, following the Julian calendar. This is different from the Western celebration of Christmas on December 25th, which follows the Gregorian calendar.


Fasting and Religious Observances

In the lead-up to Christmas, Coptic Christians in Egypt observe a 43-day fasting period known as the Holy Nativity Fast, which begins on November 25th and ends on January 6th. During this time, the faithful abstain from consuming animal products, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. The fast concludes with a special Christmas Eve Mass, which takes place at midnight on January 6th.


Traditional Egyptian Christmas Dishes


Fattah is a traditional Egyptian dish that is often enjoyed as a celebratory meal during Christmas. It consists of rice, bread, and meat, typically lamb or beef, cooked in a tomato-based sauce and served with a side of vinegar and garlic sauce.


Kahk (Egyptian Christmas Cookies)

Kahk, or Egyptian Christmas cookies, are sweet treats that are prepared and shared among family and friends during the Christmas season. These buttery cookies are often filled with a mixture of sugar, nuts, and spices, and are dusted with powdered sugar for a festive touch.


Festive Events and Celebrations

Christmas Eve Mass and Processions

On Christmas Eve, Coptic Christians in Egypt attend a special midnight mass to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. The mass is typically led by the Coptic Pope and is attended by thousands of worshippers. In addition to the mass, many towns and villages hold processions and reenactments of the nativity story, complete with music and candlelit ceremonies.


Family Gatherings and Gift Exchanges

Christmas in Egypt is a time for family gatherings and celebration. After attending the Christmas Eve mass, families come together to share a festive meal and exchange gifts. It is customary to give children small presents or toys as a way of celebrating the joyous occasion.



Christmas in Egypt offers a unique and spiritual celebration that showcases the country’s rich religious heritage and strong sense of community. From the observance of the Holy Nativity Fast and the festive Christmas Eve Mass to the traditional Egyptian dishes and family gatherings that define the season, Christmas in Egypt provides a captivating glimpse into the heart of this ancient land.



  1. When is Christmas celebrated in Egypt? Christmas is celebrated on January 7th in Egypt, following the Julian calendar observed by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  2. Is Christmas a public holiday in Egypt? Yes, Christmas Day (January 7th) is a public holiday in Egypt.
  3. What are some popular places to enjoy the Christmas festivities in Egypt? Some popular places to enjoy the Christmas festivities in Egypt include the capital city, Cairo, as well as the historic cities of Alexandria and Luxor. Many towns and villages across the country also hold their own unique celebrations and events during the Christmas season

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