Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Marriage in Egypt (Part 3)

The fun (and very hectic) part has come! Time for the party(s)
Now, Egyptians are a very joyous people, we find reasons to celebrate, we crack jokes at times of misery and we have a huge amount of official holidays (true!), so it would only be natural for us to have lots of parties during the process of getting married!

  • The get-to-know each other gathering (which usually coincides with the fat-ha) when parents get to know each other is more like a tea/dessert/snack thing. You are not expected to be formally dressed, just smartly so. 
    • The Engagement Party: This is like a cocktail-ish party, the bride to be wears a pretty dress( not white, of course) and everyone celebrates, because basically, she got her ring(s!). The Engagement party came to existence because, in the past, the bride and groom didn't know each other to begin with (arranged marriages) so it was for everyone to know that this couple are officially together. And accordingly, they can go out, they can start preparing for their wedding....etc. But now, it's more like a tradition. The bride pays all expenses that have to do with the engagement party. A new trend is to go out to celebrate instead of a real party and save the money up for a huge wedding.
    • Bachelor/ Bachelorette and Henna Parties: Typically, a night or two before the wedding, the groom goes out with the guys, and the bride with the girls, waving their "single" lives goodbye. What Egyptians additionally do is Henna Night (which is, a tradition of Nubian/upper Egyptians) it has become more of a trend in recent years, and not everyone holds this, but it deserves the mention (it's tons of fun!) it's typically held on the night before wedding night.
    "A henna night is a jamboree of festivities. The bride and her female guests (usually, men are not allowed to attend) gather after sunset the day before the wedding to sing, clap, ululate, and dance the night away. Refreshments, snacks or a full-blown supper may be served. Gifts may or may not be given to the bride. Depending on her financial capabilities, a bride may don up to seven different outfits. Candles are lit on a tray, which the bride has to circumambulate seven times. At many henna nights in Egypt, this is where the evening ends; the brownish plant paste is nowhere to be seen. But in keeping with the cultural code, some households insist on the grand finale: a skilled woman or hannana is brought to slather henna on the bride's palms and feet or to draw designs." Here
    • The wedding contract is signed either on the night of the wedding or around noon of the same day, rituals differ as to if the couple is Muslim or Christian. This is not a party, but is celebrated.
    • The wedding! (I got goosebumps writing this, don't ask why!) Egyptian weddings are glamourous, festive, loud and LONG!
    1. The Zaffa: First; the car parade, when the bride and groom in a car, and their families in cars following thiers, noisily use their horns to show the people that they are heading to their wedding, the street is usually engaged in the noise and congratulates the couple. Then the hotel/reception zaffa, translated as "the wedding march" and it's far from a march, zaffas are LOUD and emotional for the parents and close friends/relatives. According to wikipedia a zaffa "is a musical procession of bendir drums, bagpipes, horns, belly dancers and men carrying flaming swords(not necessarily). This announces that the marriage is about to begin"
    2. The first dance, the dance with the father and the multi-tiered cake, the bouqet tossing and all the western influence on Egyptian weddings is there.
    3. The ring switching happens at the "Kosha" which is where the bride and groom are seated surrounded by flowers, and they drink their sharbat "Sharbat is the juice served in almost all happy occassions in Egypt,it`s made of rose syrup.really sweet."
    4. The entertainment consists mainly of a belly dancer(s), a singer or a band and tons of dancing! Usually until not before 4 AM! This is an excellent read.
    This may or may not be the last part, but I promise there is a surprize coming up! I have been hating the weather lately (extremely dusty)..
    Is there something that you guys would especially want to know about? I am trying to make this as informative as possible, but I want to get it over with because I miss my random posts :(
    Have I mentioned I got 2 real life blog-compliments?! Extremely extatic, they made me!


    SHOKOOFEH said...

    yay for our lovely men!!! :)

    but, are you sure we have just one thing in common?! ;)
    I don't think so!


    SHOKOOFEH said...

    then... yay to amazing us! :D

    alissa said...

    This is really cool to read! some of this doesnt sound very different from the way we do it - but i like all of the unique details. like a drink made with rose syrup - sounds tasty:)

    Do people there get caught up in the silly stuff (which I can say because I did) the flowers, invitations, programs etc etc - the things no one even remembers later!? Not to say theyre not fun to get caught up in haha

    Georgia B. said...

    i like your random posts, too. but this was a great idea for a series! you have put so much into it. well done! {gorgeous photo, too—how amazing would it be to get married there?}

    Eda said...

    Thanks for this posts on marriage!I like to find out habits and traditions from different parts of the world!

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting post!I have heard of muslim weddings they are much different than Christian ones.

    Cuileann said...

    Such an interesting series, Sara!

    beverley said...

    thanks for commenting on my blog! Sharbat sounds really yummy. It is so cool to be updated in a place so incredibly far from where I am in Canada. That is so neat :)

    Anonymous said...

    With much respect to you Sara,its like saying Christianity and Islam are the same.As you and I both know they are very very different.I think you would agree with that.Enjoy your day!

    You Are My Fave said...

    Wow, good luck with it all.

    PS That picture is perfection
    PPS You have 8 sisters? Awesome.

    Maria-Thérèse said...

    Rose syrup juice!!! I want to try that!

    about modesty & my top or dress, hehe - well, it really IS short. As in, I wouldn't be able to bend forward or walk up stairs and there can be no wind or stepping into cars!!! Although I guess I am pretty modest, at least dress-wise :D
    Lace tights sounds pretty!! If not too transparent on the, um, behind! I'll have to go shopping again I suppose...

    Maria-Thérèse said...

    p.s. p.s. you are sending me something toooo? but I'm so spoiled already! I'll become obnoxious! :D

    Gabby said...

    This is really interesting! I like all the tradition!

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog!

    Susan said...

    my wedding's at the end of the month and we've chosen to leave out the zaffa, the kosha, and the belly-dancer. we are both low-key egyptians who don't like weddings. it's more of a reception dinner. I'll dance with my dad, there's cake of course, no sharbat, I refuse to throw my bouquet to my single girlfriends - I love them all and I find the practice demeaning.

    Miss B said...

    Mmmm...rose syrup juice. That sounds too good. What does that consist of, exactly? I have a large bottle of rose syrup in my kitchen, which I use in a lot of ways (my favorite from last summer being orange juice/fig/rose syrup smoothies) -- plus, it's just so pretty.

    Anonymous said...

    Hola! and Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment of concern - I appreciate it!
    Also thank you for your fantastic posts, they make me want to go back to Egypt and really explore the country - one of these days I will!

    Indie.Tea said...

    How interesting. I was comparing it to Indian weddings, which are long too, and we have henna too.
    (O, I'm of Indian heritage, born and raised in California)

    Erimentha said...

    thanks sara for your sweet comment on your blog.

    i love that balloon house. one day i may just run away and live there.
    wearing my topshop dress =P

    Belle said...

    Gosh I love it!!!
    It is so lavish and fabulous!
    I want them many events for my wedding and I want to wear 7 outfits on a henna night (amazing! 7!! Also my sister adores henna and gets it done on a regular basis!)

    Your a good girl exercising.. I have been so slack!! I really need to step up and go for runs more but I always find excuses. Motivate me please!! haha

    You would look super cute with bangs!! (Although, I wasn't too smart getting them at the beginning of summer! It is a lot harder to scoop all my hair back off my face!)

    Have a good evening darling xoxox

    Miss B said...

    Oh, thank you for that little note with the recipe! That looks like what I've got in my kitchen (except I just bought a bottle of it already made from the Indian grocery nearby) -- and I actually use it like that sometimes, mixed with sparkling fizzy water. I've mixed tiny amounts with sparkling wine, also. So I've been ready to have Egyptian wedding festivities in my little apartment all this time and just didn't know it!

    You're very sweet, dearheart -- surely as sweet as rose syrup!

    Belle said...

    I've tagged you in my latest post darling xxx

    Jasmine said...

    this was really interesting! i loooove learning about the wedding traditions of other cultures and countries. when i get married, i plan on using traditions from lots of different cultures...not just my own. thank you for teaching me about egyptian weddings! :)

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