Kiahk – 6 Facts about the Coptic Christmas you didn’t know!
*The Coptic month leading to Christmas is called Kiahk. People sing special praise songs on Saturday nights before the Sunday Service. For almost 2,000 years, and during the month before Christmas, Coptic Christians sing special praise songs on Saturday evenings, that have remained unchanged
*According to the accounts of historians, the holy family spent around 4 years in Egypt. Their journey started in the Sinai at Al-Farma - bordering Gaza - where they arrived after fleeing Jerusalem. Their trip ended in Durnaka, Assiut.
*The Coptic Christmas is known as Old Christmas Day, after England and Scotland switched from the Gregorian to the Julian calendar in 1952, however, the people who did not accept this shift continued celebrating it on January 7th.
*Based on the Gregorian calendar, Christmas should be celebrated on the 7th of January from the period between 1901 and 2100, but starting from the year 2101, Christmas should be celebrated on the 8th of January, one day later.
*Some Christians in Ethiopia and some Orthodox Christians in Serbia and Russia celebrate Christmas day according to the Gregorian calendar, 7th of January.
*The Coptic Egyptian tradition differs from the Christian, in which they don’t eat bread and wine, but instead after the service people gather for a special bread called ‘Qurban’, meaning sacrifice. The Qurban bread has a Holy Cross in the center with 12 dots representing the 12 apostles of Christ.
The Monastery of St.Catherine in Egypt, Sinai, has one of the largest collections of ancient illuminated manuscripts in the world, as well as one of the most unique collection of icons depicting the trip of the Holy family around Egypt and other major milestones in the Coptic History. With over 2,000, large and small pieces, produced between the 6th and 19th century, and below are some of the most precious ones.
The oldest surviving icon of the flight into Egypt, found intact at St. Catherine’s monastery in Mount Sinai in Egypt.
Icon from the Comenian Age (1080-1200 AD), intact at St. Catherine’s monastery in Mount Sinai in Egypt.
This icon is made with the Encaustic Technique, which uses wax and vegan pigments mixed at high temperature and spread on a wooden surface, the icons produced with this technique are of considerable historical and artistic value.
The painting of Menologia has its roots in the miniature illustration of manuscripts of the 11th and 12th centuries.
The Grand Mosaic of the Transfiguration, existing in the Monastery's main church (Katholikon), decorating the sanctuary apse.