Ramadan Lantern Posted by aziza on Jun 22, 2015 in Culture
Ramadan has its special customs and habits. One of the most interesting ones is Ramadan Lantern (فانوس رمضان). It is a lantern that people, especially children, use ONLY during the month of Ramadan. Most parents would buy their children lanterns (فوانيس), before the month begins. The kids traditionally hold the lit lanterns in their hands and visit the neighbours and relatives to greet them. The grown-ups, in their turn, would give the children sweets and money.
The most famous story about the origin of the lanterns is that the Fatimid Caliph arrived in Egypt for the first time in Ramadan at night, and the people came out to greet him holding lanterns, and since then the custom became associated with Ramadan.
When I was little, the lantern had a candle in it, and it was made out of metal and coloured glass. It was really special, but the problem is that the metal parts, including the handle, got hot from the candle. Then, my mum would tie a rope at the handle, and I would hold it from the rope instead of the original handle. Later on, the electric lanterns were introduced. They are made entirely of plastic and they have a small lamp inside. Nowadays, lanterns have recordings of Ramadan songs and even some popular tunes in Egyptian culture. Some lanterns are now made to look like famous cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, and famous footballers as well.
Lanterns come at different sizes. You can buy a key chain fanous or a huge one to hang in the balcony or on the road. Ramadan is famous for street decorations, and the fanous makes one of the most popular decorations. The day before Ramadan this year, my mum put her big fanous out on the balcony and she lights it every night. It has a light bulb inside!
Although there are lots of types of Ramadan lanterns now, my favourite one has always been the traditional candle-lit one which used to burn my fingers when I was little and which made me super rich in Ramdan, as I collected a lot of money and treats from all the relatives I could knock on their doors, night after night throughout the holy month.
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