13 Traditions Only Egyptians Can Understand

Turkish Coffee | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Turkish Coffee | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Photo of Gehad Medhat
5 June 2017

Egypt has impressed the world with its breathtaking attractions and unique touristic places—the country even has two of the world’s Seven Wonders; nevertheless, some of the Egyptian traditions are more astonishing and harder to understand their meaning than most of these wonders. Here are some of the top traditions only Egyptians can understand.

Shah’et El Mulukhiya, Mulukhiya Gasp

A funny tradition that Egyptian women have occurs when they cook Mulukhiya, a dish of vegetables mixed with leaves of Corchorus olitorius. One of the most-traditional Egyptian dishes, it is not easy to perfect its taste. Shah’et El Mulukhiya means El Mulukhiya Gasp, and it requires the person cooking it to inhale suddenly with their mouth open and make a sound like that of astonishment. Some believe that when the woman cooking Molokhiya does this when adding garlic to the Mulukhiya pot, it gets the right taste and is prepared perfectly.

<a href = "https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Molokhia.JPG"> This is an image of food from Egypt | © Showshow777/Wikimedia Commons

Not Finishing Your Glass of Juice

Those visiting an Egyptian family should remember to drink all of their juice—especially if the family has daughters. It is a common understanding that if a guest doesn’t finish their glass of juice offered by a host family with daughters, then these girls won’t get married.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/moonhouse/5013228330/in/photolist-8D178d-dCi5xb-c8N62G-b6F7bF-arJPig-eiS9Sa-e1BH9w-pir91N-eiZzwA-7qKVyk-eiTRpi-5X95r4-eiTT4M-btaMLk-dN2r8g-eiTTdB-JVbjvd-iMCGRz-ryXAkb-DoJJh-pQoQoW-akRH9i-eiZBMo-eiTTen-eaR26j-eiXTdE-4rCBi6-kQF3cc-eiXTeb-a68EWd-6yJpwk-eiXThC-p8NzV1-eiS9Pp-6sAHLU-6aU5dT-8jpPKV-aRiyN2-5Dy1g5-6n6yEb-qnaWk5-8q88Hy-oELubF-ndp55S-4GvD3h-34uLhK-aqwzg1-5RehBQ-9tHZ4y-dWewMY"> Disruptive juice | © David Hall/Flickr

3ozomet Marakbiya

This means when someone invites another to food, drink, or something else when he doesn’t really mean it. A very common request, Egyptians say it on various occasions depending on the situation. Marakbiya originates from the word markb, which means boat in English. The meaning behind this expression involves two people, each in a boat far from the other, and one of them invites the other to food or drink or anything else. It’s an invitation unlikely to be accepted by the second person because it is hard to get to the first. This is how the expression came up, and Egyptians started using it.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/shannonclark/372516916/in/photolist-yVfis-UkspPh-6oG7DU-Szrmcg-eaKo89-6FxKgp-mWhMuK-7ZhwRi-jr2V8n-T3tKnd-UE9scj-oH8Gbn-fyL3uA-TvEmpF-onkMLn-e8DmNU-CBmch-5HcDSw-9TEEor-e8xJL2-6NzHPJ-e8xK3r-5Z9rNk-prqGvX-qRbBth-mRxiMG-qgJ4eM-j32XTD-cS3f5S-UBB4LH-U5PCe9-GJQC9C-4nNspU-TY1p5K-oXvWnj-fp6uhi-poz2TS-e8xKqa-69Zw99-fH2A4n-U5PkjY-6cjtbg-a4VRjz-pSMtgm-3v6mzF-3vaHEU-8TENbS-Uyumjj-HFaFsv-Hbjmzu"> small boat on the water | © Shannon Clark/Flickr

Burying a Weasel

Those who want wealth and prosperity to come to their house, then bury a weasel at the doorstep. Some Egyptians believe that burying a weasel at their doorstep will allow them to gain a lot of money and have a better life.

Weasel | © Per/Flicker

Da2 El Hon, Drumming El Hon

People usually use el hons to mince garlic. When a new baby is seven days old, family and friends celebrate with guests singing for the baby and the parents distributing sweets. It is a tradition to drum a metal hon and make a loud noise while making statements to the baby like “always listen to your mom and not your dad” or “Love your grandparents more than your uncles”. Drumming el hon next to the baby’s ear makes it accustomed to noise. Some people believe that the baby follows the statements they say in its ears, and applies them in their later life.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/rtdphotography/2970960342/in/photolist-5wwX1b-b6yv-kFtQz-3VxUf-9nmizU-3nrPxq-3nrUKs-4gf1Yu-pL1NU-8tDy2k-6UdPoV-4hiWS-478Bn-kFubU-3nrTNG-agSmfE-f3mWCd-u3LD1-u3KP3-az2Cdf-emiajw-axBWef-6ShhSr-98srem-awZz8m-8tDqQx-abMics-4Pjty-7pXue-473Wz-bBsPUM-38Mbt-8tF9Sa-8tDoeZ-4NzUn-3nrUEu-5xjucH-nCoRg-38MEw-3nnqHn-abLZd3-6puDq-abM9qw-3VxWn-4eMRB-6UdQpP-4NA4o-pYSXS-3VxUT-bBsRic"> Baby Face | © Ray Dumas/Flickr

Step in With Your Right Leg

When going into a new place, like a new house, step in with your right leg. Doing so can bless it and bring in good, happiness, and prosperity.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/dbrandsma/5247481831/in/photolist-8ZGHwF-g2mSfM-g2mV2i-g2mQoF-g2muf7-pzx9QQ-g2n2VD-g2kWuw-g2nak8-55CDFa-g2mnRo-otc1bZ-g2mDQP-g2mwYy-k3cREZ-g2mfEu-q8JYE7-g2mFNh-g2mFKF-g2n7yg-hwNFJx-g2mM3L-9ddsQT-9Q5pzw-9PKymD-62BzNi-7ts77C-g2m8xA-g2mkii-59s2n6-g2mk1o-g2mQfe-4NDipS-g2mf8s-g2n6oR-g2mCdR-g2myoL-g2mETF-nQdb3w-g2mzs9-g2mnJu-qa1HYv-g2mAAb-hs7S2w-g2n6b6-g2mgNS-g2mKH1-g2n3xv-5E4gM4-g2mLvo"> open door policy | © D. Brandsma/Flickr

Beware of the Black crow!

Most Egyptians don’t like black crows. That’s because they believe if a black crow stands on a house’s roof, something bad will happen to the house or its people—most commonly, someone will die.

crow | © Heather Smithers/Flickr

The Twitching Eye

Have you experienced a twitching eye for few seconds? It can be very irritating sometimes, but it can also be a sign that something bad is about to happen for Egyptians—especially if it is the left eye. Some Egyptians wait for the bad thing to happen to them or to hear the bad news all day.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/jyotsna210/8305599180/in/photolist-dDWngS-TSiNkL-m3oVe-dheU1d-6zSdrY-5wAWmg-qJRaPC-2HC1W2-2HC1KB-2HC25D-EF6VTU-rAUKQU-RD6DqS-bn1XAJ-amnPmo-TDpDHU-bcdtkD-THspUy-TGmCQD-UJehTM-V5j4qP-SpDUmL-9sf2jJ-cJVVBY-UucHB1-9AR2Kf-UucHYd-QZmPfD-9SAHdk-6t3Htu-dVT3yG-7QMdVN-4mfTkD-ccaYKq-oMeRxe-cyB8qo-2JfHf6-4TeVyg-7gy5Kh-fh8CjM-6QEC3j-5882dv-r2fCWc-c1mqFj-anKGkc-GnLv9-KLzip-kJGDza-6DntU4-AY2wu"> the eye | © Jo/Flickr

Having Girls

Some Egyptians believe that having girls mean a better livelihood. Although many Egyptians prefer to have boys because they can depend on them in work and carrying on the family name and business, girls are still believed to bring more wealth than boys.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/emiemihuimei/3868043662/in/photolist-6TNJBY-2Lunw-oyZBKF-oyJewD-oAJCqV-zkhXh-4z3CEG-ohv2S4-ohuwDM-CeRCwn-33fGbC-cBoVKd-oyZuo6-oyN9Hq-ox1is9-ohvqJs-oyZYxj-ohxF3d-7NF3nG-oz1mUr-8auDJd-owZfQh-3ejM6L-owYM8y-oAMmme-5pnSad-647tYL-ohy2uK-oyNA4f-oAMwZD-ik7QV-oyZw7o-oyJJpD-ohvmNa-oAMbzk-5wBjrM-4nSrcK-ohvbQL-fJzc3E-oAKJ7c-ohvXxw-oyKpxZ-fJhBSt-9hLegu-zwcse-Asu1G-zYwdk-oyXZd1-owYiau-ohxm1N"> Egyptian pounds | © emi moriya/Flickr

Spilling Coffee

Coffee and red tea are the most common drinks in Egypt. However, accidentally spilling coffee is good omen. When someone spills coffee, most of surrounding people tell them that this is a good sign, meaning good things will happen.

Turkish Coffee | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Beware of The Turned Slipper!

Whenever Egyptians see a turned slipper, they put back to its right position or tell someone close to it to do that immediately. Why? Because they believe the turned slipper brings Satan inside the house.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/learnscope/4277544061/in/photolist-7vZwPF-79P64-4C5Sts-6AmQtF-64ARzw-4rYA1B-72JN5V-pcFoi7-xveBV-6DLeiU-btXEmo-dERyQ6-28ATkD-381VcX-D62US-bGSsAV-5mrMtr-dJpxxN-btXDXW-gXr1Db-bGSrPr-btXEn9-btXEgu-btXE4E-btXE27-bGSrQB-etgy2-aTzKFB-D62J9-bRi11-bGSrYK-bM7voM-bGSsoD-bGSsdx-btXEhh-3boxzi-5ssv2U-bGSsmc-BFqX5-6bHd3-6rWy6v-btXDNy-btXE13-bGSrXF-bGSs9e-o3gRxF-btXDYs-btXEwY-9n1Af6-bGSs6F"> slipper | © Robyn Jay/Flickr

Falling Hair

Girls love their hair, and Egyptian girls are no exception. However, for that love, there are some traditions that advise them on how to keep it healthy and pretty. One example includes not letting anyone step on cut hair on the floor or else hair will start falling out and won’t grow back.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/stelladauer/2065072220/in/photolist-49u32s-cAUjTu-5cthvw-dy6VY9-6wQK2H-6jHXwk-4z8tT9-dvYdxp-4Zq5q-5Lb2Y8-4i6BQ4-8YY4if-agy7Dp-fm6GSF-4HX3YQ-o5br6d-8uDL9p-56p5z1-fm6uCe-fm6JpP-Bzmp3M-cCEsM7-7YTr9K-85g2PM-8cavFR-5Za88o-5FQdfK-5iYAhd-4CzULG-9nF7e5-bVSCE4-fm6PeX-fm6HiT-9pH1DS-968XKH-4gCqmd-7ww2QD-6P6VGK-5Ncyye-4xbe8r-2SM24e-earXnG-K1TvKs-7ymh7m-5T9vva-7riCpb-4JE2xv-6xRg5S-7yhu5B-2SQoWu"> Hair | © Stella Dauer/Flickr

Hold the Wood

When someone talks about the great things they have, the good that has happened to them, or how blessed they are, impressed and amazed listeners tell them to “Hold the Wood” to prevent envy.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/bartoszjanusz/6255423726/in/photolist-awLFxd-H7xTX-6Ktn6U-4yTcQG-d6wNmQ-nZYAv-4pP1GW-5YnaDR-4yTbkd-87u6y7-eKKYcJ-FWAxZF-7CpFGb-9b57Gb-awHYtc-nqqj7E-7CkRV6-TbobDt-a6j2Z7-9d9YSV-7CpHwC-9YgUfY-o1QgZd-a9ekAc-FWAx7t-7CpFSS-ef4R2w-cMMPXG-cMMTQN-7CpHdG-TtzAfk-7CkKKK-a9ekND-MncAep-7CpGcS-dnvWLE-TzJSuU-7CkSX2-Mu5dx-5pUK1E-8fdReh-UhZ83b-7CkMCT-53YvHS-7QGHJP-8ie5t1-f3CiRv-TVMZK6-wqtv7-7CpGT9"> wood | © Bart Lumber/Flickr

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