Tag Archive | culture

Egyptian Culture, Part 7: Eid al Adha Celebration

Butchering a Cow for Eid al Adha in Egypt by Aisha Abdelhamid

In Egypt, Eid celebrations mark the start of national week-long vacations. Most work grinds to a halt, many stores are shuttered, streets have far less traffic, and fireworks sporadically light up the night skies. More weddings are scheduled for the festive time of eid than any other time of the year, as well.

Every year during Eid al Adha in Egypt and all over the world, Muslims practice “Qurbani.” This is the ritual sacrifice of animals, in commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command. To non-muslims, it may seem strange to learn that this ritual is a rich and beautiful expression of God’s mercy. Can the ritual sacrifice of animals in the streets generate an environment of peace? Yet, this is exactly the case during the Muslim Eid al Adha. Whole communities become visibly enveloped in a unified outpouring of celebration and generosity.

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Egyptian Culture, Part 6: Water, Water, Everywhere

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Clay Water Jugs On A Wire Rack Attached To A Pole

In Egypt, and the Islamic world in general, water has a special importance due to the need to ritually cleanse with water prior to prayer. Praying five times a day makes the presence of water more than just a convenience, it becomes a necessity to ensure a steady, clean supply for the community. Before indoor plumbing became more common around the world, water was drawn from cisterns, wells and fountains. It was during the Ottoman Empire that drinking water fountains in Egypt became commonly installed for the public, usually as a charity offered by the wealthier citizens of the community. These public water fountains often formed the hub around which sprang up mosques, schools, libraries and hospitals.
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Egyptian Culture, Part 5: Lady Chicken Vendors

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In Egypt, "Women Are 50% Of The Community"


In Egypt, “Women are 50% of the community.” This is a famous Arabic saying here, and its popularity is a strong proof of the respect paid to women in this country. In general, Egyptians are a conservative people with strong emphasis on marriage and family. Mothers are heavily relied upon to shoulder the burdens of childbearing and rearing, while fathers are typically the economic providers.  Commercialized day care is not an option for most families, being a luxury available in only select locations of a very few major cities. Under these circumstances, it is surprising to learn that approximately one fourth of the paid workforce in Egypt is female. Let’s take a closer look at female employment in Egyptian communities.

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Egyptian Culture, Part 4: Powdered Sugar Mustaches

Hospitality is every Egyptian’s middle name. I swear I’ve been lifted to an unbelievable level of good manners here, and I’m enjoying it much more, now that I’m getting used to it. Our first year back, we lived in our city apartment. All of my husband’s huge social circle beat a path to our door, welcoming him home and greeting his new foreign wife. I cringed whenever the doorbell rang, but now it’s getting easier, as I’m learning the rules guiding everyone’s behavior. For example, Islam encourages nicer replies to any greetings received, and often this inspires beautiful rounds of compliments and blessings. It’s lovely, but so much sugar is rich for my etiquette-challenged blood. There are huge numbers of correct responses to correct greetings. Also, speaking to different classes of people requires an unending variety of appropriate titles to address your guests, particularly in gatherings with people whose names are found (or needed) in your contact list!

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Egyptian Culture, Part 3: Don’t Forget Yourself


In Egypt, “Who you know,” not “what you know,” is paramount. People move the system, not technology. Social protocol and etiquette opens Egyptian doors, just by minding your manners, never forgetting yourself, and never crossing your boss. The “Good Old Boy Network” is a well-connected web, where successful social climbers are celebrated like heroes. If you forget this, you’ll soon be driving a tuk tuk, or it’s back to Grandpa’s village and the potato field for you!
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Egyptian Culture, Part 2: Carry Cash

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Egypt is a cash based society. Credit cards are for foreign tourists and the privileged few. Take three steps off the tourist circuit in any direction and you’ll find yourself in a completely different culture. If you get lost, hurt, or hungry, you better be carrying cash. The vast majority of Egyptians have never seen a credit card in their life, and probably half the population will live all their life without ever entering a bank. Cash is King in Egypt.
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My Expat-Blog.com Interview

Recently I discovered a wonderful website, http://www.expat-blog.com for expats of every nationality. It’s a huge website with a wide range of helpful services and attractive forums. They really go the full distance to serve the interests of expats. My interview with them just went live yesterday, and I think that’s especially nice because yesterday was my birthday!

You can read the full interview here, with more photos, and you can also find it online at:
http://www.expat-blog.com/en/interview/147_aisha-in-aga.html

Why did you decide to move to Egypt?

I am an American woman who flushed twenty years of marriage to a mean, drunk, ‘wasp’ in favor of an incredibly interesting and loving Egyptian man I met online. He insisted to me by email that, “Sometimes, reality is more wonderful than any dream,” and I was so ripe for the picking, I fell directly into his hand. It’s been a joyride ever since! He moved to America with me, and we built a life, a house and a farm together in rural South Carolina, and then we packed as much of it as we could fit into a 20 ft. container and shipped it all to Egypt, where we are now building another life, another home, and, thankfully, our 5-story chicken farm here is already up and running!

How was the moving process?

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It was hilarious! The floor level of a shipping container is four feet off the ground, and the truck comes with no magic wand to get your stuff up in there. It does, however, come with a ticking meter way more expensive than any taxi cab, and you must get your stuff up in there within two hours or they start charging by the minute! I had pre-packed everything into a room of our guest house that was roughly similar dimensions as the shipping container, hoping to speed things up. We also had a neighbor with a farm tractor, and he was kind enough to put the fork lift attachments on the tractor, and offered to lift the boxes up to the truck.
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