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Egypt: Calendars and Holidays


Calendars and Holidays

The business and secular community in Egypt operates under the Western (Gregorian) calendar (BC/AD), but other calendars have official status in Egypt. The Islamic calendar (AH), used to fix religious observances, is based on a lunar cycle of 12 months of 29 or 30 days. Thus, the Muslim year is 11 days shorter than the year according to the Gregorian calendar and months move forward accordingly.


In the Gregorian calendar, for example, April is always in the spring, but in the Muslim calendar all months move through all seasons in a 33-year cycle.


The Coptic calendar (AM) is based on a solar cycle and consists of 12 months of 30 days and one month of 5 days, being a total of 13 months. Every four years (on leap years) a sixth day is added to the shorter month. An adaptation of the Coptic calendar is used by many farmers for planting and harvesting crops. It is used by the authorities of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The following are months for the Muslim and Coptic calendars.

Muslim

Coptic

Muhrram

Toot (begins Sept. 11 or 12)

Safar

Baaba

Rabi` il-awal

Hatour

Rabi` it-tani

Kiyaak

Gamada-l-uula

Tuuba (mid-Jan)

Gamada-l-ukhra

Amshir

Ragab

Baramhat

Shaaban

Barmuda

Ramadan

Bashans

Shawwal

Bauna

Dhul Qaeda

Abiiib

Dhul Hejja

Masarra

Nasi (5-6 days)

Public Holidays (See also Moulids!)

Here is a list of Public Holidays in which government offices are closed.

Date

Holiday

January 7th

Coptic Christmas

January 25th

New Revolution Day

April 25th

Sinai Liberation Day

May 1st

Labor Day

July 23rd

Old Revolution Day

October 6th

Armed Forces Day

Here is a list of Public Holidays in which government offices are open

Date

Holiday

June 18th

Evacuation Day

October 24th

Suez Victory Day

December 23rd

Victory Day

Feasts, Fasts and other Specific Islamic Observations

Observance

Islamic New Year (1 day)

Prophet's Birthday (1 day)

Mulid el-Nabi, (Mawlid an Nabi) is celebrated in honor of the Prophet Mohamed. A traditional parade complete with drums and banners is held in the historic area of Cairo. In preparation for the holiday, temporary stalls are erected in all parts of the country selling a variety of decorated sugar candy.

Start of Ramadan

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic year and is more of a religious observation than a holiday. It is a month of fasting and renewal. Muslims, except for the young, the old, the sick, pregnant women, and travelers, abstain from food, drink, cigarettes, and sex throughout daylight hours. The fast begins at dawn and ends after sunset and is broken by a meal called iftar. After the iftar, the evening is filled with festivities and people gather in the main squares of towns throughout Egypt to listen to musicians and storytellers. Just before dawn another meal is eaten in preparation for the long day of fasting. During Ramadan business hours are shortened. See Feature.

Eid Al Fitr (3 days)

Eid Al Fitr, celebrates the end of Ramadan. The Eid Al Fitr is a happy celebration with new clothes, gifts, and plenty of good food. Festivities usually last three days.

Waqf el Arafat (1 day)

The day before Eid Al Adha.

Eid Al Adha (3 days)

Eid Al Adha, commemorates Abrahams sacrifice of a sheep in place of his son. It is traditional for wealthier families to slaughter a lamb and share the meat with the extended family, neighbors, and the poor. See Feature Tour Egypt Monthly Article on Eid

Specific Coptic Observations

Observance

Good Friday

Good Friday is the holiday that commemorates the day that Jesus was crucified, and is the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Easter

Coptic Easter ends the Coptic Lenten season. It is usually celebrated one week after Western Easter. Coptic businesses are closed.

Easter Monday

Sham al Nessim, sniffing the breeze, is a spring holiday celebrated the Monday after Coptic Easter. Believed to date to the Paranoiac times, it is celebrated by all Egyptians regardless of religious affiliation. The entire population goes to the countryside or to some urban green space for a day-long outing, with picnic baskets filled with hard boiled eggs and pickled fish. Businesses are closed.

Pentecost

Celebrated 7 weeks after Easter Sunday, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus resurrection.

Last Updated: April 23rd, 2011

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