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Egyptian Customs and Festivals

Egyptian Customs and Festivals

Samia Abdennour
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 122
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  • Book Info
    Egyptian Customs and Festivals
    Book Description:

    How do Egyptian Muslims celebrate Ramadan? How do Copts—Egyptian Christians—celebrate Easter? What should you expect to find on the table when invited to eat in an Egyptian home? What do you say when an Egyptian colleague sneezes? Exactly what do Egyptians do with a mortar and pestle, a sieve, and a bag of nuts seven days after the birth of a baby? Samia Abdennour, once an outsider from Palestine, now thoroughly at home in Egypt, is here to tell you all about these matters—and many more. In a book that aims to introduce the unfamiliar newcomer or interested foreign reader to the hows, whats, and whys of Egyptians life, the author covers such diverse topics as birth, marriage, and death; religious festivals and fasting; food in the home and on the street; business etiquette and terms of politeness. She describes how some traditions differ between the two religious communities, the Muslims and the Copts, and how some customs are shared by all Egyptians—like the spring festival of Shamm al-Nisim (‘smelling the breezes’) that goes back to pharaonic times. With Egyptian Customs and Festivals, you need never be at a loss in a social situation in Egypt—or fail to understand what your neighbors are up to. Illustrated throughout with color photographs of daily life and special occasions, this fascinating and informative book is a must-have for anyone new to Egyptian culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-057-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Looking at the monuments and engravings of the ancient Egyptians, one cannot help noticing how much of the world of the pharaohs is still reflected in present-day life in Egypt. Egyptians are very conservative in their mode of life, and are keen to preserve old rites. Many of the present-day rituals are borrowed from the age-old customs and traditions of the ancient Egyptians. These traditions give modern Egyptians a sense of stability and a feeling of continuity, and for Egyptians who pride themselves on their recorded history of five thousand years, these traditions certainly perpetuate their sense of serenity and...

  6. Customs and Traditions
    (pp. 23-70)

    Egyptians are generally known by three names: the name given to them at birth, their father’s name, and their grandfather’s name. Thus Samir Hanna Sadeq denotes the name given to the infant, Samir; his father’s name, Hanna; and his grandfather’s name, Sadek.

    A small number of Egyptians have surnames or family names. The origin of this custom dates back to the nineteenth century. Muhammad Ali, viceroy of Egypt (1811–49), appropriated all the land of the country and became its sole owner. However, as a reward for various services rendered he bestowed gracious endowments on a few of his subjects...

  7. Rites and Festivities
    (pp. 71-94)

    Mulids(‘birthdays’ or anniversaries) are celebrated by Copts and Muslims to honor special saints or holy men. The origin of these celebrations is pagan and dates back to ancient Egyptian traditions, which have broken through the time barrier. There is nothing in Islam, for instance, that encourages the elevation or remembrance of holy men, yet in Egypt almost every district in large cities or towns has its ‘holy man’ buried under a dome or a tree.

    Christianity came to Egypt at the beginning of the first millennium and was adopted as the state religion in the fourth century, but pagan...

  8. Proverbs
    (pp. 95-100)

    Egyptians punctuate their day-to-day conversations with many proverbs. They have proverbs for almost every situation: mutual respect, fairness, obedience, modesty, generosity, accepting the status quo, and so on. These proverbs are used to stress an argument, prove or negate a situation, or simply because they are the fruits of Egypt’s ‘glorious past.’

    Most of these proverbs are wise sayings and useful to know. Understanding the meaning behind proverbs will help outsiders empathize with the Egyptian way of thinking. Here are some of the most common proverbs, with their meanings and usage:

    ’Add lihafak, midd riglek(‘Stretch your legs as far...

  9. Recipes
    (pp. 101-108)
  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 109-124)