by Raymon Kondos
CAIRO (youregypt.com) - Feasts are very much linked to food in
Egypt. Egyptians do eat specific types of food on certain occasions.
This is something that Egyptians inherited from their ancestors
thousands of years ago.
Food also has a symbolic role and in many cases the type of food
and drink may not be delicious but in that case would be necessary
to obey traditions of a society that is so much adherent to its
Egyptians eat much kaHk (cookies) in
The most remarkable of the Egyptian feasts is Sham El-Nessim,
literally "sniffing the breeze" in Arabic. The word "Sham" also
has an old origin as the harvest season in ancient Egypt was called "Shamo" in
hieroglyphics. Sham El-Nessim is the spring day when people go
to outdoors, enjoy Nile cruises and wandering in green spaces.
Egyptians have been celebrating the onset of this feast for more
than 4500 years, thus making it one of the oldest local festivals
in the world.
The majority of Egyptians have the same eating habit on that day.
They usually eat colorful hard-boiled eggs at morning, and for
lunch they eat different kinds of salted fish, better known as "Feseekh" in
Arabic, together with lettuce onion and chickpea.
In ancient Egypt , eggs were symbolizing the renewal of life in
the spring season. It was the sacred token of the renovation of
the mankind after the flood.
It is believed that ancient Egyptians were the first to dye eggs.
On other hand, salted fish symbolizes fertility and welfare. It was
sacred to Egyptians, as it comes from the Nile , the source of fertility
in Egypt . Lettuce represents the feeling of the hopefulness at the
beginning of the spring. Onion was also a sacred plant. They used
to join its bulbs in necklaces because they believed it could heal
and bless any body.
On Eid Al-Adha, or the Greater Bariam, the Moslem feast of sacrifice,
Egyptians eat mutton meat. Slaughter of sheep on the first days
of the feast is observed as a religious ceremony that symbolizes
Prophet Abraham's sacrifice of his son, here attributed to Ishmael
On Eid El-Fetr, or the Lesser Bariam, Egyptians eat domestic-made
cookies and there is tasty variety of them. The feast comes right
after the holy fasting month of Ramadan when Moslems break their
month-long everyday fasting.
On Prophet Mohamed's birthday anniversary, Egyptians eat sweets.
This habit goes back to the Fatimid Era. The most remarkable candy
associated with this event is "Arousett El-Mulid" or "the
bride of the birthday" made completely of condensed sugar.
The candy is a sugar statuette of a fancy dressed girl that varies
in size, no wonder why children love it so much.
Copts, the Egyptian native Christians, have their own eating traditions
in their own special events also. They observe one of the longest
fasting periods among Christians of the world. They usually break
their fasting everyday by only the vegetarian types of food. Sometimes
seafood is an exception to this.
On Good Friday, some Copts sip vinegar to commemorate Jesus' same
experience on the cross.
Also on a special fasting period dedicated to Virgin Mary, Christians
eat green soup served cool, known as Molokheyya, as well as bean
soup. Finally on Epiphany, Copts eat taro and enjoy soaking up
sugarcane. It's said on that day that "He who doesn't eat
taro would wake up the next day headless."