Find, in this article, all that you need to know about the Egyptian lifestyle: traditions, cuisine, festivals, etiquette, etc.
Egypt needs no introduction. Located in Northeast Africa, the country has deeply marked ancient times. Indeed, it has a rich, strong and fine historical and cultural background which is worth to be discovered. When moving there, you will come across a warm, family-oriented population with a quite particular lifestyle, different from what you are used to in the West.
The local lifestyle is shared between school or work and the family. Indeed, the family is the cornerstone of the Egyptian society. Each and every member has a valuable role in each other's life and this is honored all year long.
During their free time, Egyptians will drop by a coffee shop to have some tea or coffee or smoke hookah. Note that tea and hookah are deemed to be symbols of the Egyptian culture. In the afternoon, you are likely to rush to the public transport network to get back home. Egyptians, for their part, will rather get together at a restaurant terrace with their friends.
Egyptians have a bustling lifestyle which you will not fail to notice in the streets, whether in the major cities or on the highway. Cars can be seen everywhere and you'll have to be patient to manage your way through the traffic.
Egyptians highly value family outings, especially those living in major cities. You are likely to notice them roaming around together, dining at the restaurant, or even walking along the Nile. In fact, it's an opportunity for them to get together, away from work and school, to spend some quality time.
Modesty and decency are highly valued in public places in Egypt. These are considered as religious values for some while others have made them their principles. Therefore, you are advised to avoid displaying publicly any signs of affection. You should also avoid wearing indecent clothing in public places so that you won't offend the sensitiveness of the local people, and hence avoid trouble.
Far from the countries which are struggling for gender equality, Egyptian administrations, stations, subway, cinemas and other public places still preserve the gender etiquette. This is displayed by long waiting lines, one for men and the other for women.
Good to know:
Cairo's subway system has reserved two cars per ream for women so as to limit gender problems such as sexual harassment in public places which is considered as a plague in Egypt.
Traditional and religious festivals
Most religious festivals in Egypt are based on the Muslim lunar calendar. Note that the Egyptian calendar particularly honors its great Pharaonic heritage. The following are the most popular festivals: Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the Ramadan, Eid al-Adha (the Sacrifice of Abraham), New Year (January 1st), Coptic Christmas (January 7), Unity Day, Sham-en-Nessim (a festival of Pharaonic origin which is celebrated by all Egyptians on the first Monday following Coptic Easter), the Pharaohs Rally (in October), the Abu Simbel cultural festival in October and February. In fact, religious and traditional festivals are celebrated all year long in the country.
The famous Moulid, for its part, is both a religious festival and a fair. Moulids, in fact, commemorate the birthday of a local saint, thus involving abundant food, sharing, shows, blessings, and in a folk way, public circumcisions. A few other cultural events (theater, cinema, music and literary) are also held between September and January.
The Egyptian cuisine is world famous for its links with the Mediterranean cuisine, especially the Turkish, Greek, Syrian and Lebanese cuisines. Among the typical local menus you have the tahini which is a sesame-based cream, hummus which is a chickpea puree with sesame and the babaghanouj which is mashed eggplant with sesame. You also have salads, mash, meat, fish and seafood, etc.
Delicacies, for their part, mainly consist of rice, milk, dried fruits, nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds, etc.
Finally, tea and coffee and a key part of the Egyptian lifestyle.