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Bringing the Eid Spirit Overseas: How Egyptians Abroad Celebrate

July 19, 2021
Photo credit: annahar.com
Photo credit: annahar.com

From decorated streets to early morning prayers attended by families in their newly-purchased Eid clothing, most would say that the Eid spirit in Egypt is irreplaceable. Much like Christmas in Europe and the US, Egyptians are often keen on celebrating by keeping some traditions alive.

Accordingly, many Egyptians living abroad miss these celebrations – particularly those who grew up in Egypt and have since left. For the nostalgic, how do they keep the Eid spirit alive so far away from home?

Nour ElMenshawy, 31 – Left Egypt in 2018, currently in Aachen, Germany

“Keeping the Eid spirit abroad is a tough gig; unconsciously raising your expectations for cozy family vibes, exchanging gifts, and socializing with friends. Unfortunately, you embark on a reality where Eid is just another working day. To salvage the Eid spirit here in Germany, I invite my friends and colleagues the following weekend for a big barbecue party! We’re talking about several hours of grilling accompanied by music and fun games – now my friends and colleagues are also looking forward to the next Eid!”

Youssef Fares, 25 – Left Egypt in 2021, currently in London, England

“I plan to celebrate Eid by heading to a public park for prayer. There’s usually a big event organized by volunteers and some movements go there to spread awareness or collect donations. After that I’ll spend time with friends and call my loved ones back home to wish them a happy Eid.”

Mohamed Hamdi, 32 – Left Egypt in 2014, currently in Dubai, UAE

“My Eid experience is different from how it was back in Egypt; it is kind of a long weekend or more of a holiday vibe than an actual Eid, if you know what I mean. The two things I still do: I go to the salon and cook Fattah with my friends, because garlic and vinegar bring back all the memories. I also spend a reasonable amount of time calling my family, friends and colleagues.”

Tarek Assem, 31 – Left Egypt in 2018, currently in Dubai, UAE

“During Eid, I usually hit the beach somewhere with my family and friends, where we can enjoy some warmth and water activities. All the kids get to play together and celebrate with their new attires. A nice dinner or a desert barbecue is always a perfect way to end the day.”

Photo credit: Pixabay

Jilan Tobar, 28 – Left Egypt in 2013, currently in Virginia, USA

“My father learned how to make lamb fattah last year, since my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. It’s nice that he’s continuing the tradition! Since it’s warm out, Eid is also a popular time for Muslim families to all drive to the beach. Since my family takes time off work, we also stay up late and play Estimation. I feel like our celebration is pretty casual but it’s nice that Eid brings the family together!”

Yasmin Hayes, 27 – Left Egypt in 2013, currently in Madrid, Spain

“I have been living in Madrid for almost nine years, so naturally, I had to get accustomed to celebrating certain traditional things in my own way, although it’s always nostalgia ridden. Since my boyfriend is Spanish and my family lives here, we always go the extra mile to recreate a special feeling so that he can get a peek into the tradition and we can have our own special day, which includes listening to traditional music the very first morning, watching videos that help us reminisce about Cairo and its crowded streets, and ending the day with an Egyptian banquet of food my family would make in Cairo every year.”

Mirna Eskarous, 29 – Left Egypt in 2000, currently in Dubai, UAE

“Our Eid traditions are either going to a hotel somewhere on the beach with family and friends or staying in watching TV because everywhere is crowded. I like staying in mostly because you can spend quality time with the family.”

Karim Ashour, 30 – Left Egypt in 1998, currently in Amstelveen, Netherlands

“While I never had the chance to celebrate Eid in Egypt, my parents always did their best to replicate the “Eid” feeling at home; buying new clothes, requesting time off of school to go to Eid prayer, having people over to eat together…etc.

One thing I never managed to like was fattah; I just didn’t understand the concept of bread with rice and meat and refused to try it. One Eid my mother brought fattah to my father’s work where one of my best friends worked too. He is as Dutch as can be, and when he tried it out he was absolutely blown away by it, immediately calling it the best dish he has ever tasted. I was intrigued and tried it and I just couldn’t believe that I missed out on that deliciousness for so long. I’ve been looking forward to Eid ever since just to eat fattah again and we always send a plate to my friend every Eid.”

Photo credit: e7kky.com

Mohamed El Rouby, 30 – Left Egypt in 2019, currently in Paris, France

“Here in Paris, you cannot really feel the Eid spirit, especially if it falls in the middle of the week, unless you go to the vicinity of the Grand Mosque; and I must say it is nothing like Egypt. The majority of Muslims are Algerians and Moroccans so the rituals are different -even the recitals are different! Egypt certainly has its charm when it comes to such events.”

Dalia Abdelshafi, 39 – Born abroad and currently in Vienna, Austria

“During Eid, we always used to go to that one mosque in Vienna for Eid prayers. We then go home and have fattah (no slaughter, but we buy Halal meat) then usually meet friends and have a good time. Of course, new clothes and eideya are always a must.”

Mohamed Hussein, 33 – Left Egypt in 2012, currently in Vienna, Austria

“When I first came to Vienna, I missed spending Eid Al Adha in Egypt. So, starting 2013, I started making a big fattah lunch with a lamb leg and invited all the Egyptian single students (younger and older) who couldn’t make it back home and we have a little Eid celebration of our own. Eight years later, I still make the fattah, and my 1.5-year-old will help this year.”

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