Med Pearls: Coptic cultures and how Christmas is celebrated in the Saint Mina Monastery in Egypt!


Coptic Christmas is observed by Orthodox Christians every year on January 7th. The date was calculated using the Julian calendar, which predates the Gregorian calendar used by other Christians around the world. This day is celebrated by many Orthodox Christians, who comprise 90 percent of Egypt's Christian population and many more from across the world, as a sign of healing and inner serenity and inner peace. 

The Coptic month preceding Christmas is known as "Kiahk," and lasts for 43 days, beginning on November 25th and ending on January 6th. Christians abstain from consuming animal products and wine at this period and follow a somewhat vegetarian diet. This Holy Nativity Fast is a very special fast during which prayers for the sick are given and people feel a special spirituality associated with this time of year!

On Coptic Christmas Eve, people go for a special service where they meet up with friends and loved ones at the church, while services usually last past midnight, sometimes even until 4 in the morning. Following the service, people enjoy a hearty meal of eggs, meat, and butter, as well as anything else they could not eat during the fast. The incredibly delicious "Fattah," which is lamb soup combining rice, bread, garlic, and boiling lamb meat, is a favorite holiday dish that is served for both Christmas and the Muslim Adha Feast, while many take the joyous occasion as a nice chance to visit friends and family on Christmas Day and exchange presents such as traditional Egyptian "Kahk" or unique sweet biscuits.

The beautiful Saint Mina Monastery, located on the outskirts of Alexandria and part of the pilot region of Edku and Mariout Lakes, is distinguished by its beauty, tranquility, and spirituality and is a must-see during the holidays. During services, guests can hear the Divine Liturgy's prayers and the recital of melodies. Travelers will undoubtedly fall in love with the cathedral's atmosphere, as well as the cathedral's and its people's kind and wonderful spirit.

The Med Pearls project seeks to not only promote the notion of Slow and Sustainable Tourism, but also to draw attention on the necessity of preserving and valorizing local identities, as well as the importance of staying connected to the roots of traditions. The initiative also encourages domestic and foreign tourists to embrace, respect, and enjoy the genuine essence and beauty of the local cultures they visit! This and much more will be accomplished with the assistance of the Med Pearls project's awarded subgrantees, who are producing products that adhere to the Slow Tourism concept with the assistance of locals and their communities.

Now that you know about the warmth of Coptic Christmas, do you celebrate Christmas any differently? Stay tuned as we introduce you to the diverse cultures, traditions, and holidays of the unique Mediterranean region.


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