From the land of pyramids, pharaohs, and papyrus, we bring you a look at Egyptian culture past and present. Grab a cup of mint tea, fire up the hookah, crack open a novel by Naguib Mahfouz, play some songs by Abdel Halim Hafez, or put on a movie starring Omar Sharif and join us while we share recipes, music, jokes, videos, and current events from Egypt.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Small World Saturday #5: Gatherings

This blog is about everything Egyptian and although Egypt’s history is long and her culture fascinating, she is but one nation in this world of ours that grows smaller with each day. Every Saturday, we’ll post a theme. Participants will post a picture, story, song, poem, recipe, craft project, piece of art – anything, really – that tells us something about your city/town, state/province, or country for that week's topic. Our hope is that through this weekly meme, we’ll learn more about our countries and cultures.

This week's theme is GATHERINGS, so tell us something about how you get together to spend time with family, friends, and neighbors in your part of the world.

Next week's (9-5) theme: TRANSPORTATION

Here are the rules:

1. Please keep your posts family friendly.

2. Enter the link to your specific Small World Saturday post ONLY in Mr. Linky, as this makes it easier for us all to find the posts.

3. We reserve the right to remove any links that are not from Small World Saturday participants and are not linked directly to the weekly post.

Today's Scribe: Ali

We Egyptians live for gatherings. It's not often that you will find just two or three people in a "group" in Egypt because we think that whatever would be fun for 5 people would be even better with 20 people. We love large gatherings, especially when they are made up of our family, friends, and neighbors.

Ramadan is a time for gatherings of all kinds in Egypt. During this month, our homes are filled with family, friends, and neighbors every day. We visit each other and break our fast together all through the month. We gather to eat, pray, laugh, joke, and watch the special Ramadan serial (soap opera) together. While the adults watch the soap opera, which usually addresses an important social or political issue, the kids gather together to play.

Ramadan is also a special gathering time for people who might not have families. Each day, someone will sponsor a charity iftar (iftar is the Arabic word for breakfast and although it seems strange to say that you eat breakfast at 7:30 in the evening, that's the first meal of the day for us so it is breakfast -- breaking the fast). Tables are set up in the street and a full meal is prepared for anybody who is hungry. You can see these tables in every neighborhood all over the country. Nobody tells who sponsored the iftar -- it is always done anonymously because we believe that the best charity is that which is given without expectation of recognition or reward.

After iftar, another kind of gathering happens. This one is called taraweeh, which is a special prayer that happens only during Ramadan. Each night, 1/30th of the Qur'an is read so that by the time the month has ended, the whole book has been read during the prayer. So many people gather each day for this special prayer that they don't fit inside the mosques. As you can see in the picture, they spill out into the streets where they form the same kind of neatly organized rows that they would inside the mosque.

Ramadan is a time of gatherings, and Egyptians love gatherings of all kinds.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful is this. I so enjoy learning about this. And thanks for sharing more about Ramadan. Excellent :)


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