Cairo Christmas “A Weary World Rejoices”

There is no Christmas tree and no turkey. We have not not heard “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” one time since arriving four days ago and our gifts fit inside small stockings. Our world is stripped of some of the traps that catch me at Christmas time in the U.S where slick advertising tempts all my senses with color,slogan and promise. With this stripping has come a delightful freedom and joy. Joy in cooking over a tiny three burner gas stove with my children and substituting ingredients to mimic familiar tastes; freedom to not put pressure on each other or on the day to be something it can’t be. Tahrir Square is but a block away from where we are preparing our Christmas feast and we are acutely aware of the struggles of many just minutes from our festivities. This is Christmas in Cairo.

At a late night service on Christmas eve we sang Christmas carols in Arabic and English side by side with refugees from the Horn of Africa, Egyptian Christians, and expatriates from around the world. My senses feel alive with the joy of being here and witnessing in person this time in Egypt’s history. Here I have to wrestle with the words of Christmas carols instead of blithely singing them. Here as I read the words “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace.” I ache with a longing that people may know how much God loves them.

As I watch the resilience of Egyptians continuing to hope in their world and future, I think of the hope that is personified in the birth of a small baby, helpless and fragile, yet history cannot keep silent of the joy that came that night. As night falls and I view the scenes around me from high balconies and close encounters I am reminded of the beautiful words that speak to that holy night, where a “weary world rejoiced” and woke to the miracle of a “new and glorious morn.”

Christmas Day - Cairo, Egypt "A Thrill of Hope, A Weary World Rejoices"

23 thoughts on “Cairo Christmas “A Weary World Rejoices”

  1. So, so thankful and happy for you that you can all (except Micah and Lauren) be together there in Cairo for Christmas. But I want you to know that you were missed in S. Hadley – and it seemed to be a very quiet Christmas here – no Gardners!!


  2. I love this write. It is not only profound in itself but for the many thoughts and realisations it inspires. Where do I begin. In the past decades i have always been in a single word disgusted by the materialism that has hijacked Christmas.
    An orgy of spending followed by a new Year begun with balancing credit cards has never made any sense to me. For ma Christmas was the Christmas of Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. A time of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to men, a time of giving as much as one can to those who are less fortunate.
    I was so happy reading about this simple Christmas that you had as a family which seems to have embodied in it the true spirit of Christmas itself. The singing of carols with diverse people united by a single faith, which is the most beautiful uniting factor of all. How wonderful a sight for God, to see his Creations despite colour, race and language, sing His praises with one voice.
    What I loved best was the last part of your post. it made me realise something, which I as a Muslim should have realised a long time ago.
    As Muslims, we believe in Jesus as a prophet, We believe that Mary was honoured and chosen by God to bear Jesus from among all the women in the world. We believe that God used to provide sustenance to Mary, by sending her food with the angels. we believe that God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit ‘Ruh ul Qudoos’
    We believe in the Virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, that he made a bird out of clay and breathed life into it, that he brought the dead to life, that he cured the sick and the lepers by God’s help. That as a 40 day infant, he addressed the people and bore witness to his own virgin birth, again by God’s will. There are two chapters on Jesus and his family, one of them is called Maryam. Jesus is mentioned a number of times in the Quran. he is also called Isa Masih.
    We believ in the words and God say Be and it is. ‘Kun fa Ya koon’

    This is just an interfaith dialogue, I do not wish to hurt any sentiments here.

    We believe that God sent 124,000 Prophets who brought to the different peoples of the world. The message that God their Creator was One, a God of Mercy and Benevolence and who explained to their people their duty towards their Creator.
    The Quran tells us to believe in all the prophets and not to distinguish between any. As Jesus is a prophet in Islam and so is Muhammad basically for us they are equal. Further we also believe that God sent to mankind 4 books; The Torah, The Psalms, The Bible and the Quran.
    A Muslim believes in God, His angels, His books, His prophets and the Day of Judgement. This is a Muslims basic faith and he does not distinguish between prophets. I am sorry I had to give this background to explain to you what truly touched me.

    These are your words towards the end “I am reminded of the beautiful words that speak to that holy night, where a “weary world rejoiced” and woke to the miracle of a “new and glorious morn.”

    I wish we would view the birth of Muhammad and celebrate it with the wonder of a message of Peace and Mercy reaching us, of it as a promise of God’s being fulfilled.
    There are extremists who even demand that Muhammad birthday should not be celebrated. I wish they would view it with different eyes. What the message has brought to us and how it has given us faith and brought us closer to God. surely the birth of a Messenger is the very fulfilling of that promise. I think this time i am going to celebrate the birth of Mohammed in a very new and different way. Thanks for this my dear. As always I am obliged to you for sharing your perspective. Love you!


    1. Thank you so much Dave! As well as to you! It is an incredible time here…feels a bit like a dream. We have been in Alexandria since yesterday – heading back to Cairo today. Will be posting about that soon!


  3. Merry Christmas, Marilyn, and all of your family. “Then pealed the bells more loud and sweet/God is not dead, nor doth He sleep/The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/For peace on earth goodwill to men.”


    1. Thank you so much Tom! I love the words of that song. I remember a couple of years ago when I read those words and it felt like I was reading them for the first time.


    1. And to you! Cairo is not the same without you. Were in Alexandria the last 24 hours and I am amazed at the incredible library! Then seafood at the Greek Club. Miss you my friend.


    1. Thanks for reading and this comment. I will take a look at this article in a bit and thanks for linking it. True that Christmas is not a material thing but many of us in the west have forgotten that.


    1. Thanks so much Ruth! And to you in China! I will be getting the book out to your mom as soon as we get back. It is a wonderful trip. Have been in Alexandria the last 2 days heading back to Cairo on the train right now. Will post about Alexandria soon.


Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s