Saturday, February 27, 2010

Christmas in Luxor

Christmas is not celebrated in Egypt as it is in the US, despite the presence of Coptic Christians there (they celebrate in January, the 12th night). However, since so many people travel through Egypt during the winter months, since it's much cooler, most hotels have some kind of Christmas celebration. We were treated (for a price) to a huge buffet with lots of vegetarian options and a show of traditional Egyptian music and dance (along with some of the western standard Christmas carols). The most unusual for us was the Whirling Dervish.
The dance was/ is actually a religious ceremony, called the sema. It's unusual because there's usually a separation between the religious and secular but this particular dance has been transformed into a performing art, particularly in Egypt. It was originally performed by the Sufi (an Islamic order) but now it may be performed by true Sufi or just a performing artist. It is amazing to watch ther performer turn or whirl endlessly all the while manipulating colorful skirts. The concentration, the ability to keep going (I got dizzy just watching) the way they move. It really was a treat! 

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