Two Egyptian Coptic festivals added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list

DUBAI: Two annual festivals held in Egypt to commemorate the journey of Jesus, Joseph and Mary from Bethlehem to Egypt in order to flee King Herod have been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, it was announced on Wednesday.

Muslims in Egypt often join their Coptic Christian countrymen to celebrate the two festivals, called the Festival of the Advent of the Holy Family and the Nativity of the Virgin. The former is held at the start of June, while the latter is marked between May and August each year.

Meanwhile, the French baguette — “250 grams of magic and perfection,” in the words of President Emmanuel Macron, and one of the abiding symbols of the nation — was also given UNESCO heritage status on Wednesday.

The bread, with its crusty exterior and soft middle, has remained a quintessential part of French life long after other stereotypes like berets and strings of garlic have fallen by the wayside.

More than six billion are baked every year in France, according to the National Federation of French Bakeries, and the UN agency’s “intangible cultural heritage status” honors the tradition.

“It celebrates a whole culture: the daily ritual, a structural element of a meal, synonymous with sharing and conviviality,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Speaking from Washington during a visit to the US, Macron praised the UNESCO recognition of French “know-how.”

“This is something inimitable,” he said.