Holidays and Festivals in Egypt
The Islamic calendar is a lunar-based calendar so Islamic holidays shift 10-11 days relative to the Western calendar each year. For this reason, the Islamic holidays will cycle through the entire Western year over a 30 years period. Days also begin at sundown on the Islamic calendar so the festivities usually begin on the evening before you might expect them.
The fast can have an effect on schedules with restaurants and shops staying closed during the middle of the day and opening after the fast is broken at sundown. Opening hours for tourism sites may shift as well, closing one hour earlier to allow employees to get home to break the fast.
Traveling during Ramadan does have its perks. Getting into the rhythm of the fast can be a very rewarding experience. After sunset, the streets come alive and people stay out celebrating and eating late into the night. If you walk in the street around sundown there is a good chance that you will be invited to eat with a group of fastbreakers. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe the fast, but should be conscientious of the fact that most people around them are fasting. Refraining from smoking and eating in public is considered polite.
**Note: None of Memphis Tours’ services are interrupted by the fast during Ramadan. All tours and trips operate as normal with slight adjustments to account for the fact that not all restaurants are open during the day.
ll of these holidays are widely observed. Many bars and restaurants will refrain from serving alcohol during these holidays as it is illegal for them to serve Egyptian nationals. Hotels will likely not be affected by these changes though.
Cairo, Tanta, and Luxor all host large moulids. Al-Hussein, Sayeda Zeinab and Imam Al-Shafi’i Mosques all host large moulids in Cairo at different points in the years, but there are many smaller celebrations. If you are lucky to hear about one, keep in mind that these festivals are raucous, crowded affairs, full of music, ritual prayers and dancing.
Coptic Easter also coincides with a much older holiday that traces its roots back to Pharaonic times called Sham al-Nessim. The name literally means ‘sniffing the breeze’ and it is a celebration of the arrival of spring that usually takes place in April. The holiday carries some traditions that might be familiar as they parallel the Western celebration of Easter, such as egg painting. In general, Sham al-Nessim is celebrated outdoors with families enjoying picnics in green spaces and enjoying eating specific foods like a type of pickled fish called fesheekh.
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