Ramadan is celebrated by many Muslims all around the world, it’s a month of forgiveness, togetherness and countless blessings. As everyone welcomes the holy month with all it’s excitements, each Muslim region has something unique to add to the regular monthly celebration.
Egyptians have specific historical and cultural practices that have been passed onto many generations, those in which make the Ramadan experience one of a kind in Egypt. We hear about our grandparents’ sweet memories, our parents’ funny stories and here we are experiencing Ramadan our own way, still carrying on with the same traditions and customs we were raised with.
The Ramadan vibe in Egypt never gets old with families, neighbours and friends gathering in each others houses. Let alone the blessing of having our mothers cook the food we enjoy the most throughout the month. People have always shared an atmosphere filled with warmth, happiness and a sense of belonging, especially throughout Ramadan.
Here are some of the highlights involved of an Egyptian Ramadan experience:
These beautiful lanterns have been around ever since, except today there is a wider variety of shapes and colours. If you want to make a child smile, wish them a Happy Ramadan along with a Fanous. Even adults like to receive them, it’s a thoughtful way to remember someone as the religious month arrives. The Fanous has become the main symbol of Ramadan, often seen inside homes, in streets and at the shops, adding decorative light and bringing on the mood.
A considerate person who collects names, walks around with a drum and wakes people up before dawn. For generations, several names have been called upon in the streets and it’s a special kind of feeling. Children have fallen asleep with their parents promising them that they will be waken up by this beloved stranger, reminding them to eat before time Fajr.
Throughout the streets of Egypt, you’ll always find lanterns displayed above to elaborate light into the neighbourhoods. Along with colourful decorations that make this particular month a cheerful and bright one. Nothing beats the happiness expressed by young men who voluntarily help hang up the decorations as Ramadan shines in.
If you grew up in Egypt, this would be unusual for you and you would of seen it many times. It’s an act of kindness to feed the poor and less fortunate after sunset when people are able to break their fast. Charities, local communities and mosques organise a public Iftar that is free of charge in the streets. Ramadan demands good deeds, and some people find this as a perfect opportunity to help others and spread generosity.
We all know about the delicious food served in Ramadan, but there are some ‘musts’ when it comes to Egyptians. Things like Qatayef, Konafa, Zalabia, Khoshaf, Amar El Din and dates with milk are Ramadan essentials which is understandable because they taste great. These are only a few of so many options, the creations of Ramadan in Egypt are hard to find elsewhere and it can be really hard to resist them because they taste so good.
It’s a cultural thing to watch Ramadan series ad commercials that fill up the TV channels during Ramadan. People will watch during and after fasting hours as a way of letting time pass, the couch becomes the perfect companion for those who like to binge on TV. In fact, lots of people create a schedule for the programs to ensure they don’t miss any episodes.
Ramadan is about strengthening our faith, appreciating the blessings, performing prayer, sunnah, Zaka’ and reading the Quran. The mosques are open at night for those who pray Taraweeh and groups of people join a Khatma to complete 30 chapters of the Quran. Thus, while Ramadan is a fun month, it also requires Muslims to strive for good deeds.
Eid Al Fitr Festival
As we dismiss Ramadan, the excitement continues on to Eid Al Fitr. The actual celebration after fasting, gathering with family and friends involves more fun activities such as baking Kahk and biscuits. People go out and the air is fills with lots of energy and joy, while children play on swings in the streets and light up some fireworks.