Egypt Culture Part II
Ramadan – the month of fasting for Muslims
Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. Fasting is from sunrise to sunset. In Cairo, the end of the fast is announced daily by a cannon shot from the citadel. Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. It is different every year because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar year. In Egypt there are many traditions in Ramadan that go back to the Fatimid period. These include above all the Fanous Ramadanwho have favourited Ramadan Lanterns, which are made from recycled sheet metal and colored glass in many shapes, colors and sizes. They are hung across the street, set up in front of or in shops and brought along as gifts when invitations to break the fast, the “Fitar”. For the Ramadan Fitars, elaborate dishes are often cooked and they serve to deepen family and other social relationships. Sweets like kunafa made from string of doughor the “Qatayef” consisting of filled and deep-fried choux pastry are a must. Political and civil society organizations as well as companies and authorities organize Fitars for their employees or for certain groups of people in order to promote goodwill and social interaction. The so-called “ma’ida al-rahman”, tables that are set up on the street and offer a free fitar for everyone, are also typical of Egypt. Sponsored by business people, politicians, artists and other public figures, they are often the only opportunity for the poor to get a hot meal once a year. After the Fitar there are many cultural events in cafes, cultural centers, restaurants, hotels and the typical colorful Ramadan tents, which are built by many restaurants on the street. The Egyptians turn night into day in Ramadan and only go to bed after eating the last meal before sunrise, the “suhour”.
Eid El Fitr and Eid El Adha – festivals at the end of Ramadan
Eid El Fitr is the festival of breaking the fast at the end of Ramadan. At sunrise, Muslims go to the mosque or the large squares in front of central mosques to pray and then go home to eat “fetta”, a dish made from meat, rice and a sauce made from tomato, garlic and vinegar. Afterwards, the children receive monetary gifts that they can use to buy sweets and fireworks. Eid El Fitr also includes special biscuits called “kahk el- ‘eid”. The families visit each other, eat and sit together.
According to payhelpcenter, Eid El Adha is the festival of sacrifice, for which everyone who can afford it slaughters an animal, usually a lamb or a goat. It is a religious obligation to give meat to poor relatives, neighbors or colleagues. Both Eid festivals last four days and are used for visits by relatives and friends, but also for excursions and short trips, especially if they happen between two weekends.
Moulids – celebrations for the birthday of important personalities in Islamic history
Themosques are decorated forthe moulids and the faithful make a pilgrimage to the mosques for a fortnight and take part in the various celebrations around the mosque. Many of them come from the Fatimid era and are more colorful than religious. There are fire-eaters, storytellers, chickpea sellers, street art showmen, suppliers of curiosities, but also religious chants and performances by Sufi orders (see above under “Religions”). Many Egyptians from the countryside and from the urban areas camped around the mosque during this time. The festivities culminate in “al-leila al-kibira”, the big night. The well-known Egyptian poet and cartoonistSalah Jahin wrote a puppet theater operetta with the same name on al-leila al-kibira, which is famous all over the Arab world. You can watch them in three parts on Youtube (Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3), Knowledge of Arabic is not necessary to enjoy them. The largest moulids in Egypt are Mulid Hussein and Mulid Seyeda Zeinab in Cairo and Mulid Seyed El Badawi in Tanta in the Nile Delta. Moulid El Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet, which is celebrated on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabia ‘Al Awal, has a special position. The festival is a national holiday and only lasts one day. The mosques are also decorated on this day. There are sugar dolls for the girls and sugar horses for the boys and there are special sweets for everyone, which are sold at colorful stalls all over the country. Alcohol sales are prohibited on this day from sunset the day before.