Egyptian Marriage Customs
Did you know that the Egyptians were the first people to frame laws for marriage? Most of the Egyptian marriage customs follow the laws made under the influence of religion of the people.
To ancient and modern Egyptians, marriage is a sacred event in the life of the individual and the event is recorded as a civil and legal relationship. They value the psychological and biological satisfaction that comes with marriage. Marriage is also seen as a means of reinforcing social relationships.
Egyptian Marriage Customs: Ancient Egypt
You will notice that marriage relationships in traditional Egypt, is dictated by religion. Couples could court at temples and social gatherings and adult daughters could interact with guests who visited their homes.
The bride and groom would get engaged after the parents of the couple have approved the marriage. The process of approval required the payment of the Mahr by the groom to the bride. In ancient times it was meant to help the girl’s family with collecting the household items and jewelry of the bride. You may be interested to know that the bride also receives a Shabka or a valuable gift from the groom.
An elaborate engagement party is arranged and all the friends and relatives of the bride and the groom are invited. This function is normally held in a banquet hall. The bride and the groom are well dressed in pink or blue (the color of immortality) and the hall is decorated with flowers and lights.
Egyptian Marriage Customs and Legal Rights
All legal rights and duties of the couple are well defined. In ancient Egypt marriage contracts were written documents signed by at least three officers. Men and women could divorce each other and the wife held a significant position in society.
You will find that the groom spends the time between the engagement and the wedding in preparing his home to receive the bride. Once the house is ready, the date of the wedding is fixed.
On the night preceding the wedding, you will find the women in the groom’s family visiting the bride at her home. They get together and apply Henna to the bride and to their own selves. The bride will be dressed in pink.
The men in the bride’s family will visit the groom and spend the evening singing and dancing with him. He will also be attired in rich clothes.
The Egyptian marriage customs of ancient times, you will note, demanded that the marriage contract has to be written out and signed by both parties. It is treated as a contract and is registered by the priest in the temple. The actual wedding takes place at night when the richly
dressed bride and groom go through the rituals. The bride is taken to the groom’s home on a horse or camel in a procession led by a musical band. Green wheat is sprayed over the procession as a symbol of fertility. You will see that cooked meats, vegetables and fruits are prepared for the attendants who sing and dance at the wedding.
The day after the wedding the bride’s mother and sisters visit her with food. Relatives visit the bride after seven days. The bride then offers them food with sweets and fruits from her new home.
Egyptian marriage Customs: Modern Egypt
You must be aware that modern Egypt is Islamic. The religion dictates that marriage should be accepted by the bride and the groom. The marriage has to be publicized. However, the couple may not meet before the wedding or even after the engagement in public or private. Some families may permit the couple to meet in a very limited way.
The engagement and wedding customs however, have remained the same. Mahr and Shabka are still given to the bride and engagement parties are held in the honor of the commitment. The marriage is signed and registered by a Maazoon—a kind of marriage registrar. The marriage takes place in the bride’s house or in a mosque.
In modern Egyptian marriages, unlike the ancient customs, the bride wears white and the groom wears black. In modern day Egypt cousin marriage is not a problem under the influence of Islam.