MAY THIS CHRISTMAS BE A NEW BEGINNING
The Egyptian people are facing youth unemployment, widespread poverty, an unstable economy and continuing human rights violations. But Egypt is also home to the Middle East’s largest Christian population – and despite violent attacks in recent years, the Egyptian Church is faithful and thriving.
During the festive season of Christmas in Egypt, most Egyptians are just getting on with their day to day lives. They don’t really notice the Christians celebrating. But some hotels and shops display Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees are very popular – they often sell out before Christmas! This time of year can also be cold – we even had snow in some parts of Cairo a few years ago.
CHRISTMAS IN JANUARY
I am from a Coptic Orthodox family, and we celebrate Christmas on 7 January. On Christmas Eve we attend Mass with family and friends at St Mark’s, the main Coptic church in Cairo. We sing Christmas songs of praise with joyful tunes, and listen to the liturgy and sermon
The time of the mass can change each year – normally it’s at midnight, but a few years ago there were some security alerts, so the service was held earlier in the evening to make it safer to get to and from the church. Lately, things have calmed down a lot, but even if we don’t feel safe we go to church anyway.
On Christmas day, we celebrate with a big family get-together. We give presents and eat traditional Egyptian food like molokheya (a green leafy soup), rice, meats, cake and pastries. My favourite thing to eat at Christmas is ginger cookies, and I love hot chocolate too!
My hope for Egypt this Christmas is for everything to be renewed. The old ways of thinking are still prevailing, and people are still living by very outdated values. So, I hope that the people of Egypt will become more open to learning new things and changing their way of thinking: that they will have a new vision.
PRAY FOR EGYPT
Join us in praying for the nation of Egypt. The Christians needs our prayers after a year with several attacks on Coptic Orthodox Christians – that amidst trying times, the Egyptian people would turn to Jesus and put their hope in Him.