In every culture the birth of a child is usually a time of celebration. In Egypt, it is a time of song, eating, drinking and gifts!
WHAT IS A SABOOA?
The word: “saba” means the number ‘7’. Sabooa is the word used to describe the party that is held to celebrate the birth of a child, because the party is usually held a week after the birth (7 days!).
WHAT HAPPENS AT THIS PARTY?
Family, friends and neighbours will all come and be welcomed. Some will bring gifts or money for the new mother or for the child. The child will be dressed in pink or blue, sparkly and new! Guests will be given something to drink, including a traditional hot butter drink called “moghat”. Then there is usually an “official” part of the occasion when:
- the baby will be carefully placed in a large decorated “sieve” and put on a table.
- the women will light candles and then dance around the child, singing to her: traditional songs, famous and special, that have been sung for many a year at times such as this
- the child (on the sieve) will be placed on the floor, and the mother will step over her 7 times, while the women sing and clap.
- the Grandmother (or another highly esteemed older woman in the group) will clang a metal pestle and mortar, urging, encouraging and advising the child to always listen to the advise and voice of her parents and elders!
- sometimes 7 varieties of seeds are thrown around the house, guests and baby to symbolize life and health, similar to confetti at a wedding.
WHAT FOOD IS THERE AT THE PARTY?
This can vary depending on the income of the parents, but at every sabooa there must be:
- candy covered almonds
- sweet pastries
- sodas and hot butter tea.
If the family is wealthy, and the child is a son, they might slaughter a sheep or a goat. 1/3 will be given to charity, and the rest will be eaten with friends and family.
AND WHEN IT IS ALL OVER….
When all the guests have had enough to eat and drink, have kissed the baby and congratulated the proud parents, they will begin to leave. At this point each guest will be given a little ‘goodie’ bag:
Usually it will be tied with a ribbon on which is written a little wise saying or the name of the child. Inside this bag will be a few almonds, hummous, chocolates and a little ornament, usually a baby, which will be kept by the guests to remember the sabooa.