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Sham El Neseem

…just a quick clarification about my last super personal post— the opening two lines were meant to describe my pre-headscarf hair. I do not share any hair details post headscarf, it would kind of defeat the purpose, don’t you think? So if any of you were confused. I was writing in the past continuous tense from the perspective of my younger self. Yes, I am that complicated to understand sometimes. Apologies.


I think I told you about this Egyptian holiday before, but for the sake of redundancy here we go… again:

The day right after Easter (that would be a Monday, yes) Egyptians celebrate what is known as Sham El Neseem which literally translates to “The Sniffing of the Breeze”. What you will realize if you happen to find yourself in Egypt around this holiday is you should definitely stay clear from the sniffing of any breeze on this glorious Monday– any breeze passing your way will be loaded with the smell of rotten fish, raw onions and boiled eggs. Not the best combination to be sniffed–trust me, for I have sniffed enough to last us all a lifetime and a day.

It is said that this holiday was inherited from ancient Egyptians to celebrate spring. So of course, what best way to celebrate the blossoming of flowers in the middle of the dessert than to catch fish, salt it like there’s no tomorrow, let it decay in the dessert sun, and then consume said fish. It is guaranteed for any Egyptian to suffer from some sort of food poisoning at least once in his lifetime (we’re speaking about the super lucky ones here). So to speed things up, Egyptians celebrate spring by inducing massive food poisoning for the rest of the population. At least one family dies from consuming “Feseekh” (the Arabic name of the rotten fish) every Sham Neseem holiday.

The good news is, we also decorate eggs! My husband insists that the egg decorating came from Coptic Christians who celebrate Easter. My father insists that it’s an ancient Egyptian tradition. I insist that whichever it is, decorating eggs is crazy fun, also way better than rotten fish.

Happy Easter, Sham Neseem, and Spring everyone!



About Muslim Hippie

Hello and welcome, you have landed yourself on this virtual space designed by your humble servant to try and escape life's unpleasantness through: selective memory musings, snippets of the world that surrounds me, and occasional insights when the light blub in this strange brain of mine flickers. No real names are displayed I'm afraid, why bother?

4 responses »

  1. A Concerned Citizen

    I believe you are misrepresenting your husbands views on egg decorating. My sources indicate that he merely surmises (not insists) that the tradition comes from *Western* Christians (not Eastern ones).

  2. Feseekh still haunts my nostrils in my sleep *shudder*

  3. Feseekh still haunts my nostrils in my dreams. *shudder*


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