In Egypt, Christmas on the 7th is often called “Coptic Christmas” because the majority celebrating on this day are Coptic Orthodox Christians who make up almost 90 percent of Egypt’s Christian community. However, there are other churches in Egypt that also celebrate on the 7th.
Coptic Orthodox Church
In the Coptic church, the month leading up to Christmas is called ‘Kiahk’, which is the fourth month in the Coptic calendar. During ‘Kiahk’, special praises are sung at church to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and venerate Mother Mary. 43 days before Christmas, the Coptic community celebrates the Nativity Fast, where they must avoid any dairy or animal products (chicken, beef, milk, eggs). Christmas eve is celebrated on 6th of January with a special evening liturgy that ends at midnight, following which Copts break their fast.
Prior to Christmas eve, the Evangelical community in Egypt annually celebrates at Kasr El Dobara. The celebration includes joyful Christmas carols and songs, as well as a sermon by the President of the Evangelical Church in Egypt.
Armenian Orthodox Church
For Armenians, Christmas celebrations are very special. Armenians celebrate ‘Chragaluits’ (burning lamps), where they light up candles at church and bring them home with them to symbolize the end of dark days. Armenians also celebrate the day after Christmas as Memorial Day, where they remember loved ones who passed away during the year.
Greek Orthodox Church
Within the Greek Orthodox community, there is a minority that celebrates on the 7th of January. For them, the Christmas celebrations consist of ‘kalanda’ (Christmas carol-singing), and the two seasonal sweets ‘kourabiedes’ and ‘melomakarona’.
The Syrian Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, among others, also celebrate Christmas on the 7th in other parts of the world.