Putting aside the old age argument of how commercialised Christmas has become (what shared traditions haven't been commercialised?), this particular holiday season has only come to flourish, so to speak, in the last few years in Egypt, with the Christmas spirit very much swaying more and more people every year into embracing trees, baubles, Santa, et al.
That's a pretty grim, almost cynical, assessment, but Cairo's readiness in celebrating Christmas maes sense when it comes to food. Yes, we're a nation that loves to eat out and the city's restaurants know this very well – feast your eyes on this year's special Christmas dinners across Egypt's capital.
Why celebrate Christmas only on Christmas Day when you can celebrate it on Christmas Eve, too, right? One of the standout dinners on Christmas Eve is set to be hosted at InterContinental Semiramis, where Ahmed Harfoush will be serenading diners at Pane Vino, with a special set-menu (450LE per person) awaiting. The hotel is also holding a special five-course gala dinner at the Grill, by the festive name of Noël sur le Nile, while things take a turn for the Asian at the neighbouring Birdcage.
From one Garden City hotel to another, Four Seasons Nile Plaza is also putting regional spins on traditional Christmas foods, with Zitouni hosting a Christmas Eve buffet (365LE), while the hotel's Italian restaurant, Bella, has put together a spectacular-sounding six-course dinner (650LE). Meanwhile, Upper Deck is taking diners on a culinary trip around Europe with its special set menu and Cantonese restaurant, 8, has an epic eight-course meal on offer.
Over in New Cairo, meanwhile, one of the city's newest hotels, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, is embracing Christmas wholeheartedly; the State is preparing for a Christmas seafood buffet (430LE), Asian restaurant, Yana, is fusing Christmas with the flavours of the Far East, and Lucca has prepared an Italian-inspired five-course meal (580LE).
It's not just the hotels that are getting in on the act, though; the Smokery has some special treats lined up, too, alongside the REAL Santa Clause. No, not really – it's just some dude.
Friday is brunch day for many in Cairo and you'll find several options to kick off Christmas Day with. Eat & Barrel's Eat to the Beat embraces Christmas with the help of Ramy DJunkie, while Night & Day's usual Friday brunch gets the Christmas treatment. Elsewhere, the Westown Hub-located Melt Bites is hosting a special Christmas lunch, with Adham Roshdy & the Wave Jazz Band performing.
Of many options for Christmas Dinner we can't help but point you in the direction of one of the most consistent fine-dining restaurants in Cairo, Conrad Hotel's Oak Grill, for a three-course dinner, or the excellent Saigon Restaurant & Lounge, where the festively named, Eat, Drink & Be Merry, welcomes Ahmed Harfoush.
There's also more Christmas-Asian fusion back at Birdcage and a slightly Egyptian Christmas feast at Zitouni (350LE), while the Smokery serves up more Christmas treats, a does Mohsndiseen restaurant, Gabriel, as well as Bella, which is laying out a five-course meal (450LE).
In Heliopolis, one of the standout options lays inside Fairmont Heliopolis at Aqua e Luce, where live jazz features. Further out to the east of Cairo, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski continues to celebrate in lavish fashion; after a special Christmas brunch at the State (430LE), Italian restaurant, Lucca, invite one and all for their special five-course meal.
Possibly one of the highlights of Christmas Day, however, is at Four Seasons Nile Plaza, where Lobby Lounge is hosting a Chocolate Buffet (185LE) – let that sink in for a while...
Now snap out of it, because, believe it or not, these are just a few of the options awaiting across the city; check out the Cairo 360 events calendar for more Christmas dining options as well as the customary wave of Christmas parties.
Happy holidays, even though we don't get Christmas as a holiday in Egypt!