In 2010 Suzi lived in Cairo and while she flew up to Budapest to join me at that Christmas Market, she attended the Cairo Christmas Market. Here are comments from her family letter.
I was wrong when I thought there would be little or no Christmas in Cairo, though my surprise clearly shows that I wasn’t thinking. In spite of the very Moslem image, official figures show that 10 or 12% (depending upon which you’re reading) of the population is Coptic Christian and, while they celebrate in January, they do celebrate Christmas
And I even found a Christmas Market… well, ok perhaps the local term “bazaar” might be more appropriate. I’m told it is to be the first of many “seasonal bazaars.” This one was held last weekend, on the first Sunday in Advent, at the German school. It was clearly Christmas and clearly German. One of the big draws was the several food booths (probably operated by the parents of the students) with brats and raclette and several dozen different kinds of cookies. They even offered a very good gluehwein, though in a plastic coated coke cup rather than a souvenir mug.
There were maybe a hundred booths selling an amazing assortment of items, ranging from tacky to terrific with perhaps a long third being Christmas related and the rest evenly divided between Egyptian or pan-African/Arab and China, some hand created crafts (quilts, woodwork, candles, embroidery) and some commercial stuff (crocks, books, camel leather cushions to stuff, prints of photographs and paintings.) Many (maybe most) of these booths were run by service organizations, Rotary, “Helping Hands,” “Mission to Prisons;” many were private shops that promoted where we could get their wares between bazaars. The doors, supposed to open at noon, actually opened at about 12:30 (not bad around here, though I was pretty hot and tired of standing in the 80 degree sunshine by the time they finally opened, and was not really in a “Christmas” mood.) There was still a line about a half a block long to get in at three, but by 2:30 the real evergreen advent wreaths were gone and the wine (which was the most popular booth with people buying bottles by the case, or multiple cases) was down to only a few bottles left of one of the dozen or so originally offered. That one was also, I think, run by the dads… so collectively a very good fundraiser for the school as attendance was in the thousands by the end of the day.