If you've ever wondered what Egyptian culture is like beyond the ancient pyramids and hieroglyphics, the Taste of Coptic Egypt Festival was the place to explore. All weekend long, residents could get a glimpse of the rich heritage with the help of Egyptians, who as Gabrielle Lucivero shows us, couldn't wait to share their culture.
NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- They begin with a welcoming -- a hymn in four languages.
"Greek, Coptic, Arabic and English,” said church member Youhana Kaml. “That welcomes everyone, because we wanted to include as many people as possible, so that's why we picked this hymn."
Dozens of Coptic Egyptians, more simply known as Christian Egyptians, did exactly that this weekend.
"To get them to taste our food, to see our culture, we're having church tours for people to get introduced to the architecture of the Orthodox church,” said Father Kyrillos Sadek, a priest at the St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church.
The congregation moved from their old home in Downtown Syracuse, where they've been since 1997, to their spot on Church Street in North Syracuse just five months ago. Now it's time for their housewarming party. They opened the doors to the St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church for their first ever Taste of Coptic Egypt Festival.
"We did it, not because of the money, not because of anything, but we wanted to teach people who we are, wanted to let them know what we're all about,” Kaml said.
Church members say they've been hard at work for weeks, but it's worth it to help people get a better understanding of their Egyptian heritage.
"People ask me, 'do you live in pyramids?' no we don't,” said Kaml. “Yes we have them, but we don't live in them."
Still, they were happy to answer any and all questions. Congregation leaders say they are overwhelmed by the warm reception from the community.
"Many people commented that they were very happy that we're doing this and that they didn't know who we are. It kind of solves the mystery for them in their minds of who we are and what we stand for,” said Sadek.
"That's one of the things we love about Syracuse, it's very multicultural, all of this is in our backyard, it's great,” said visitor to the festival Karen Rutkowski.
And they hope to keep doing it for many years to come. Event organizers say the money raised from the festival will go toward the congregation and help them as they continue to get settled in their new church.