Any wedding, in any culture, any country usually brings to the fore the question of who buys what and who pays for what!
In Egypt, one of the fun things that one gets to see periodically, is a truck load of new furniture, accompanied by young enthusiastic men:
- clapping hands
- banging drums
- and singing… as the truck (and usually a few full cars as well) head towards a specific, new, empty apartment.
- banging drums
VILLAGE vs CITY:
When it comes to who does what, these days in Egypt, there is a growing difference between what happens in the village compared to the city, but there are also differences between the economic classes. But even so, there are still similarities. For now, we will focus on the village, where the whole community gets involved… and how!
Traditionally, in some Delta villages, the Groom is responsible (with usually his parents and or wealthy relatives) for buying an apartment. This is ideally 4 rooms: main bedroom, lounge, dining room and a “living room” (guest room, children’s room, guest room, TV room). These apartments usually come with very little. Unfurnished can mean no light fixtures, no bath or toilet fixtures, no cupboards, no kitchen cupboards or sink or working surfaces! So quite a lot needs to be bought.
He is usually responsible for buying all the furniture, fixtures and fittings for the entire house.
On her side, the bride is responsible for the “small items” in the kitchen/dining room: cutlery, crockery, glasses, pots and pans, blenders and mixers, bedding….. Usually she and her parents start buying and storing things in her home from the time of the engagement.
If she is going to live in a home above her prospective in-laws (as many do in the Delta: they build an extra floor above their home for their son and his bride) she will also be expected to buy some new items for her future mother-in-law’s kitchen, as well as some gifts for her future sisters-in-law.
ONE WEEK BEFORE (or so)…
The groom and a selection of advisors (usually his family and a few friends) even up to 10, will make their way to Damietta, on the Eastern branch of the Nile, home of Egypt’s famous carpenters and furniture makers. The group will descend and begin bargaining and arguing over the order and the price. When this is agreed, the purchases will be packed up and transported by friends and family to the home.
2 – 3 DAYS BEFORE:
The truck will arrive in the village. Friends of the groom and his family will accompany the truck with much noise and merriment and go via the Brides house to collect all the things she has collected for the home. The young men will take this to the apartment and unload everything, place them in the correct rooms and then the carpenter will put them together. The gifts from the bride will be left in the kitchen, awaiting the arrival of the women!
The women will arrive (usually from the brides family). They will begin to dust, clean and unpack all the goodies for the kitchen, dining room, beds, and cupboards. The bride is not usually present for this…. but when the ladies are finished, it is custom in many villages that the neighbors and other villagers can come over and have a quick look. But once the women leave, the door is locked until after the wedding.
AND FINALLY THEY ARE MARRIED:
After the wedding the happy couple will be brought back to their new home, furnished, cleaned and prepared… ready for the start of their marriage….. some time alone, but very soon the first visitors and well wishers will arrive!