It is funny how a couple of degrees surge or decrease in temperature can actually have a great impact on how we live. When the winter starts to say farewell and spring is just around the corner, Easter festivities start coming into the picture. Egypt is no different than any of the cultures that heartedly celebrate Easter. It’s a great time for Egyptians to start getting together, doing some outdoor activities, and eating their very special Egyptian Easter foods.
Just like any other festival, food has a role to play in order to make the festivities look and feel right. In Egypt, authentic foods start making an appearance that we won’t usually see all year long. There are many Easter traditions in Egypt that go way back in time, to when the Pharaohs were ruling over them.
Since this is a very happy time for everyone, we would love to take you on a nice journey into the history of the Easter festival in Egypt, known as Sham El Nessim, and what food people like to indulge in during that time of the year.
Sham El Nessim in Egypt (Easter Day)
Sham El Nessim is the Arabic term used to describe Easter Day. It literally means “inhaling the breeze” and that is because it marks the beginning of the Spring season when people head outdoors to enjoy the weather.
Easter Day is more of a Christian celebration. It always takes a place on a Monday, following Easter Sunday each year. And, while Christians are Egypt are not deemed the majority, it is still a feast celebrated by everyone, regardless of their religious background. People celebrate by eating lots of heavily salted fish, onions, and eggs.
These traditions have been taking place for years. You may wonder why exactly these specific foods are used in celebrating the day. Well, there is an answer for that, it is an ancient Egyptian tradition. Egyptians seem to be very proud of their roots that they managed to keep many of their traditions alive for long years.
This celebration goes way back to Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians used to call it the Feast of Shmo, which means the revival of life. They describe going back to the outdoor life after several months in the cold as going back to life. Also, they marked the start of this season by measuring the alignment of the sun with the Great Pyramids.
The Most Popular Egyptian Easter Foods
Most, if not all, festivals around the world are celebrated with food. Special kinds of food are associated with different events. Some of which never make an appearance throughout the year. Egyptian Easter Foods are among the meals that this example applies to. They are available to everyone all year long, but no one thinks of consuming them unless it’s Easter Day.
Feseekh (Mullet Fish)
Feseekh is one of the most popular Egyptian Easter Foods that are consumed in spring every year. It is the Arabic word for mullet fish, a heavily salted one that is prepared a month ahead. This kind of fish has a nutty taste that is very bitter to some people. It also has a very strong odour that many people can’t seem to tolerate while others just appreciate it.
This fish is put in great amounts of salts and stored in tins for a month or over right before the festival arrives. The salt works on cooking the fish slowly, so by the time Easter Day is around, the meal would be ready for consumption. Green onions are the side treat of this meal, adding some crunch and some aromatic feel.
Feseekh has always been the king of the scenes since the times of the Pharaohs. It became a staple of the Egyptian Easter Foods given that waters flowed with abundant fish types at that time. For that very reason, a lot of fish dishes were distributed on that day.
Boiled eggs are among the famous Egyptian Easter Foods. On this public holiday, eating boiled eggs may seem like a very ordinary thing. However, this is not the deal. In fact, people of all ages take the time to colour the shells of the hard-boiled eggs. They even add some artsy spin by painting nice shapes with beautiful colours.
Eggs are another staple that has been consumed since the times of the Pharaohs and has been inherited by generations, one after another. Eggs have always been a pharaonic symbol, symbolising rebirth.
Easter Bunny Treats
Bunnies have always been associated with Easter Day. However, while many people in Egypt do eat rabbits, it is not actually deemed one of the Egyptian Easter foods. Yet, bunnies are associated with spring in different parts of the world.
This myth may not take such a huge part in Egyptian culture, yet you will find lots of chocolates and other snacks in the shapes of bunnies being sold in markets around that time. The origin of bunnies and their relation to Easter Day has always remained a mystery but the whole world still keeps it intact.
Renga (Smoked Herring Fish)
Fish represents a great symbol in the life of ancient Egyptians and continued to do so to this very day. Another kind of fish that makes up the list of Egyptian Easter foods is the smoked herring fish, commonly known as renga. It is an oily fish that is split in half from head to tail and seasoned with salt, pickles, and smoked oak.
This kind of fish grows in both freshwater and saltwater alike. Since Egypt has great access to all sorts of waters, so this fish can be found in great quantities. Herring is also covered in heavy salts, like Feseekh, but it only takes a couple of days. It is then hung and left to dry in the air for several hours before it is put on fire.
Tahini always comes along adding a sweet saucy feel to the meal. It is a significant dip used by Egyptians in many meals and renga is no exception. Mixed with the smokey flavour of renga, tahini can never go wrong.