Egypt Enlists Journey of the Holy Family Festivals on UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

November 30, 2022

Festivities and celebrations related to the Journey of the Holy Family in Egypt are now on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

These celebrations commemorate the Holy Family’s voyage from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape King Herod’s oppression.

According to historians, the Holy Family spent around four years in Egypt. Their trip started in the Sinai at Al-Farma, on the border with Gaza, where they arrived after fleeing Jerusalem. Their trip ended in Durnaka, Assiut, at the location of the famous Monastery where the feast of Virgin Mary is celebrated in August each year.

Every year, the event is memorialized by two festivals in which Egyptians, including Muslims and Coptic Christians of all ages and genders, participate in large numbers.

The first festival, called ‘The Festival of the Advent of the Holy Family to Egypt,’ is a one-day event generally held in the beginning of June.

The second event, called ‘The Nativity of the Virgin’, is a feast that takes place in several towns and cities, including Durunka and Cairo, between May and August.

Activities include singing, traditional games, body-painting, re-enactments of the journey, religious processions, artistic performances and the sharing of traditional foods.

The festivities are replete with social functions and cultural meanings, including the unified social and cultural fabric between Coptic Christians and Muslims evidenced during the preparations and festivities.

The events are also associated with the provision of voluntary services to visitors by local residents and the exchange of gifts. The knowledge and skills are transmitted through churches and monasteries, within families, and through active participation in the rituals. UNESCO

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