Christmas in Cairo

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas here in Cairo.

No matter how many plump plaster-cast reindeers and glitzy gold Christmas trees in the mall.

No matter how many boys selling Santa hats (including a frightening,’Silence-of-the-Lambs’-style with an eyeless, flayed rubber Santa face hanging below the fringe.

No matter how many times Nile FM can play Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’.

It’s not surprising considering Egypt’s Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

My one and only work Christmas party was put off till 15 January, however, we made a good fist of it, helped by the fact Christmas Eve is on a Thursday, the Arabic equivalent of a Friday night. So we crashed the Christmas party at the pumping bar, After Eight (reached by walking off the street, through a kiosk selling chocolates and chips then down an alleyway that has actually been cleaned up).

The entertainment was a band, two DJs and they also threw in a beautiful belly dancer who had a gorgeous smile but was lacking in the whole hip movement area. The first DJ belted out a fistful of fun Arabic pop, but the second went into deep, heavy dance that lost the holiday bonhomie as well as the dance crowds.

There was no fowl on the Christmas table (Fee objects) and no pork either (Egypt objects, and has killed all its pigs in a frenzy over swine flu). Thank god, there is always smoked salmon…

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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