Mary Joseph is SAT-7’s Egypt Communications Officer and is based in Cairo. She has lived in Egypt and Australia and worked as a journalist in secular and religious media. Her passions are reading, writing, traveling and photography.
During the festive season 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 be cold – we even had snow in some parts of Cairo a few years ago.
I’m from a Coptic Orthodox family, and we celebrate Christmas on January 7. 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 favorite 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 The old ways of thinking are still prevailing, and people are still living by very outdated values.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.