Friday, January 18, 2013

Egypt's School Calendar

Asalamu Alaykom,

Welcome to the start of my 3-day weekend.

Alhumdulillah for the life of an Egyptian school teacher!  Sure, the day-to-day grind is wearing but there are plenty of paid days off to over compensate.

The school year begins the second or third week of September.

The first day off is Sixth of October.  This is a national holiday commemorating the 1973 win over Israel.  You can read more about it here.

Eid Al-Adha is the day of slaughtering and feasting at the end of the Hajj season.  It will continue to move backwards 11 days each Christian calendar year (since the Islamic lunar calendar is 11 days shorter).  This is true for every Islamic holiday I list.

There is bound to be a day off for grading or an election somewhere in the fall.

Islamic New Year is another day off.

In Decemeber, those who work at international schools get extra days off.  There is the Christmas break for the foreign Christian teachers who use the Western calendar AND for the local Copt Christians as well.  The Winter break can run from the third week of December past the first week of January.  Language schools and Islamic schools don't get this much time.

There's another day off for the Coptic Epiphany.  This year, we'll have Sunday off from school for the Copts and then Thursday off for the Muslims due to Moulid Al Nabi.  Three days off followed by three days working and then another three days off.  You gotta love multi-culturalism!

Moulid Al Nabi, or it's sometimes written "Mawled Al Nabawy",  is the birthday of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  This year it's on Thursday, January 24.  Again, it will move backwards 11 days on the Western calendar every year.

In Egypt, the occassion is marked with boxes full of sugar:  multi-colored jellies, coconut candies, apricot-filled sweeties, and crunchy peanut, sesame and even hummus brittle.

Here's my selection from last year:

I'm not for marking the occassion, since the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) never celebrated his own birthday.  It's considered bida; an innovation for us to ape how the Christians mark the birthday of the Prophet Isa/Jesus (peace be upon him).  In theory, I really agree.  Gastronomically, I still crave those candies.  I've learned to buy them cheaper AFTER the holiday.

January 25th marks the start of the Egyptian Revolution.  Originally, in 2011, it was going to be the start of a new holiday called, "Police Day".  Little did we know then that the police were going to be starting a two-year break from patrolling the streets.  We still have a pronounced reduction of men in uniform.  That the country functions as well as it does is a testament to the good nature of the majority of residents.

This year January 25 is next Friday; the day after Moulid Al-Nabi.  It will be interesting to see how the populous handle the day.  Every Friday is a bit of a nail biter; anything can happen.   We shall see...

If the school doesn't have a Winter break for Christmas, then there is a mid-year break at the end of January or start of February.  The public schools and language schools follow this.

March 21, the first day of Spring, is Mother's Day in Egypt but it's not a day off.

Around the end of March and beginning of April is the Western Easter and the Copt Easter.  The international schools take time off for both.  Then, because we apparently haven't had enough holidays, the Monday after the Copt Easter is the Spring holiday of Sham El Nessim.  It's not Copt or Muslim.  It actually has it's origins in Pharaonic times.  You can read more about it here.  Basically, it's just a good day for a picnic.

April 25 is Sinai Day and shortly thereafter May 1 is Labor Day.  Schools usually give a week to two weeks off to cover all these Spring holidays.  If only we could convince them that Americans really need Memorial Day!  There is not another day off until the end of the school year.  National schools end their year in May but international schools end their year towards the middle or end of June.

Looking ahead, you'll see that Ramadan this year starts inshahallah around July 9 (depending on the moon sighting which signals the new month).  The summer will seem very short with Ramadan happening so soon after school lets out.  Inshahallah, we'll be spending some time in The States in July or August.

Teachers need to return to Egyptian schools the last week of August to prepare for the new school year.  The whole process begins again inshahallah.


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