Friday 14 December 2012

Christmas in Egypt

As part of the Christmas Around The World series being hosted by Living Life Intentionally Goblin and I decided to explore Christmas in Egypt.
(Goblin is 38 months)

We discovered that Egyptian Christians don't celebrate Christmas on the 25th December. Christians in Egypt make up about 15% of the population and are part of the Coptic Church who celebrate Christmas on 7th January. Advent in Egypt is a 40 day fast which ends on Christmas eve with a church service that runs until midnight. Everyone wears a new outfit for the service. At the church a special bread is eaten for communion. It is called Qurban (which means sacrifice). 

We thought we'd try making some Qurban. The recipe really appealed to me because its so simple. However there is a Warning - this recipe takes about 5 hours (with all the rising stuff) so don't start just before bed time like I did! 
You'll need:
2 tsp yeast
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbls salted, softened butter
1 tbls orange blossom water (or if you can't find that 1 tsp of orange essence will do)
Warm water
Goblin mixed the yeast with a third of a cup of warm water - Kitty supervised!
Then he poured the flour and sugar into a bowl and rubbed in the butter. 
 He added the orange essence and the yeast and an additional half cup of warm water and gave it all a stir. Then he attempted to knead the dough.
Hublet took the remaining dough that wasn't all over Goblin's trousers and gave it an additional knead on a floured chopping board. Then we covered the dough ball with the plastic bowl and left it for 15 minutes.
After 15 mins Hublet kneaded it again, rolled it into a ball, wrapped it in plastic and left it for one hour. After an hour he folded the dough and left it for another hour. By this time Goblin had gone to bed.
I took the dough and chopped it into 6 and made balls. We covered these with plastic and left them for 15 minutes. Then I rolled each ball out into a pancake and popped them on a floured baking tray and covered them with a wet cloth for an hour.
After removing the wet cloths I sprinkled the tops of the circles with flour and carved christmas designs into the top. Apparently the Egyptian Christians carve a cross. As we aren't a religious family we went with Christmas trees and stars. The bread needs to be cooked in the oven at 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.
I have to say it tastes delicious and the orange essence really gives it a Christmassy taste - So Goblin and I have discovered that Christmas in Egypt is DELICIOUS!

On a serious note since the downfall of the Mubarak regime there have been increasing reports of violence against the Christian minority in Egypt. This January (2012) in the true Christmas spirit many Muslims came out to protect the churches while their Christian neighbours celebrated the festival. This is a good time to remember that not everyone has the freedom to celebrate without fear in the way they choose.

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  1. What a beautiful post. So interesting- I can't imagine fasting for 40 days! Did you read is it a fast from a certain food like catholics?

    That bread sounds yummy - I am going to have to give it a try when we travel to Egypt =-)

    Thanks for joining us on Christams Around the World!!
    Beth =-)

  2. What a nice way to share other traditions ....makes me want explore more with my children great post

  3. Wow, that bread looks good! Same question as Beth - it's more a restrictive diet than not eating anything for 40 days, right? What can't they eat during that time?

  4. I hope, also, you do not have to fast frrom everything or you can eat after sunset or something. I am sorry to hear of violence against Christians and the problems in Egypt. Thank you for this lovely post! This series is so interesting.

  5. ok here is the trouble I get into when volunteering to do a random country I know nothing about - all my info is from the googles. So I could be incredibly wrong. But according to my sources (Google) the fasting is like adhering to a vegan diet. No meat, fish, poultry or dairy. But the sources also seemed to suggest that most Christian Egyptians these days only do this for the week before their Christmas day (7 Jan).
    If anyone knows anything more accurate please leave a comment

  6. this is such a cool recipe. thanks for sharing.

  7. What an interesting post! And in my experience, there is hardly anything in the world that is not improved by a splash of orange essence. Wishing you and yours a lovely Christmas x

  8. Love this post and so going to try this recipe looks fantastic thanks for this xx

  9. What a wonderful post!! I am so enjoying learning about how Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  10. Welcome to a new Linky Party for Kid-Focused Bloggers. Monday Kid Corner is a place to share your kid-friendly activities and crafts. Please join us at See you there!


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