Marriage Traditions in Egypt

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An Egyptian wedding is a very special historic ceremony that has been carried on from generation to generation and from Civilians to Bedouins and Nubians since the times of the Pharaohs. Although Egypt has been exposed to many civilizations, such as Greek, Roman, Christianity, and Islam, many of the traditions of ancient Egyptian marriages still remain in modern Egyptian weddings. Here is a complete list of Egyptian wedding traditions.

1. Egyptian weddings

Although arranged marriages are not quite the norm anymore, when it comes to Egyptian weddings, they still are not an unusual occurrence. Once both families have given their approval, a marriage agreement is drawn up.


2. The Dowry (mahr) & Marriage Gift (shabka)

The marriage agreement is made up of two parts, The Dowry (mahr) & Marriage Gift (shabka), where the groom has to bring two gifts to the girl’s family. The “mahr” is a sum of money that a groom-to-be pays to the girl’s family, while the “shabka” is a tradition where the groom gives to his wife-to-be jewelry.


3. The engagement

The engagement period gives the couple time to get to know each other. The bride’s family will host the engagement party at home or more often at a hotel with wedding decorations of several kinds of flowers and lights.

4. Wedding rings

The symbolism of the wedding ring is said to date back to Ancient Egyptian culture. Wedding rings are said to represent the perfect circle or marriage not ending.


5. The Henna night

Egyptian women have a henna party for the bride and her female cousins and friends which is held a day or two before the wedding ceremony. This night is usually themed, mostly with girls wearing belly-dancing outfits.


6. Egyptian wedding ceremony


The Egyptian wedding ceremony starts with a car parade with wedding decorations of flowers and ribbons. When the bride and groom reach the hotel they are received by a “Zaffa” (procession), another human parade of belly dancers and drummers. Christian couples celebrate their marriage in a church conducted by a priest with prayers and readings from the Bible.

Muslims hold a wedding ceremony called “katb el katb” which is performed by the Maa’zoun in the local mosque or at the house. The ‘Mahr’ and ‘Moa’khar’ are written in the contract during the ceremony. The ’Moa’khar’ is the money a Muslim bride receives in case of a divorce.


7. Cutting of the cake

As elsewhere in the world couples cut the wedding cake, which is several layers high, and feed each other. The bride then tosses her flower bouquet behind her back to other hopeful females. The wedding celebration is marked by plenty of food and drinking of a traditional sweet drink called “sharbat” which is prepared from various fruits and herbs.

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