Christmastime at St. Olaf is the best part of the school year, uniting students, alumni, and family alike through music, lefse, and Norwegian sweaters. Although I have heard that the unseasonably warm weather in Minnesota is anything but conducive to holiday spirit, it has been especially difficult for us to accept the fact that this holiday season is passing by with very little notice. We began the season by a Thanksgiving swim at the beach in Hurghada, and since then we have yet to experience temperatures lower than 70 degrees.
Luckily, we don’t have to completely miss out on the holiday season and the St. Olaf Christmas Fest experience. Although lefse might be difficult to come by in Cairo, we are still able to listen to thisyear’s Christmas Fest via MPR’s live stream of today’s matinee performance. Despite our 9:30 class tomorrow morning, many of us are staying up late to listen until the end!
As we learned in class today, there are around eight million Coptic Christians in Egypt. Along with the sizable expat population in our neighborhood of Zamalek, there is a presumably sizable market for the Western commercialized side of Christmas. While shopping around the island we feel right at home, encountering many stores selling tree ornaments, stockings, stuffed Santas, and red and green greeting cards. Walking back to our dorm from dinner tonight, we even saw Christmas trees on a street corner waiting to be lovingly decorated.
These are constant reminders of the brevity of our time left in Cairo. As we wonder where this semester has gone and attempt to see everything Egypt has to offer before our last two weeks are up, I think I can speak for all of us in saying to all of our friends and family: We love you and cannot wait to spend Christmas with you!