On 7 January of every year, Coptic Orthodox Christians — who comprise 90% of Egypt’s Christian population — break their 43-day fast and celebrate Christmas.
The celebration comes this year amid less strict coronavirus measures compared to last year, when the Christmas Mass was limited to a number of bishops and monks only.
This year, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi attended the Christmas Mass held by the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church at the Nativity of the Christ Cathedral at the New Administrative Capital.
Al-Sisi congratulated Coptic Orthodox Christians and said the new republic will accommodate all Egyptians, without discrimination, wishing Egypt’s Copts a merry Christmas.
Last year, Pope Tawadros II led the Christmas Mass at the St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi Al-Natrun without the usual public attendance due to coronavirus pandemic and President Al-Sisi congratulated the pope in a video conference call rather than attend the mass in-person as per usual.
This year, the Coptic Orthodox Church announced that it is declining to receive well-wishers on Christmas morning due to the pandemic.
Over the past week, Egyptian Orthodox Christians have been booking online the limited number of available spots to attend the Christmas Eve Mass.
The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 7 January, almost two weeks after most Western denominations, including Catholics and Protestants, who celebrate on 25 December.
Here are some venues in Cairo that have Christmas vibes:
The Grove Walk, in Sixth of October City, is one of the most famous venues in Egypt and one of the first places to set up Christmas decorations. The atmosphere, the music, and the chilly weather transports its visitors to the streets of Europe. The grove also has a giant Christmas tree that people can take pictures next to and inside of.
The Korba area in Heliopolis also features plenty of intricate decorations that adorn the walls of its buildings and its restaurants and cafes.
Downtown Cairo is a good place to visit during Christmas as well, as it is characterised by a different architectural style. Walking through the streets of Downtown Cairo is a different experience, and its giftshops always have charming decorations and memorabilia commemorating the New Year.
Arkan Plaza in Sheikh Zayed is also quite festive, as it houses one of the largest Christmas trees in the country. Furthermore, its restaurants and cafés are very chic and capable of providing you with a delicious Christmas dinner.