LIGHTS, LIGHTS, EVERYWHERE!
Egyptians are very poetic and grande in their compliments, but one thing that becomes apparent, if you listen, is that Egyptians value and appreciate “light”, both in speech…. and in their homes!
Some of the often used compliments here in Egypt are:
- You are the light of Alexandria
- Now you are back, you have made Egypt full of light
- It was dark, but now it is light because of you.
- Your light is brighter than electricity: you bring light to my home
LIGHTS IN THE VILLAGES:
A long, long time ago, before there was electricity in the villages (and even today in a few scattered homes) kerosene lamps were what brought light into the homes at night. Children would gather on the mat with their homework and mother would place the lit kerosene lamp in the middle of the mat, so each child could see their notebook in the flickering flames. The smell and sound of the kerosene lamp, and the gauze lamp that followed still evoke many memories of a hard but happy life as a child in the villages of Egypt.
After these kerosene lamps came the initial generators: noisy and smelly, and nobody wanted to be the child chosen to run and switch off the generator, plunging the home and farm into darkness! Finally, as the electricity pylons, wires and cables marched their way into the villages, great celebration, excitement and awe surrounded each home as light pervaded the homes at the flip of a switch…. well…. most times!
LIGHTS IN MOSQUES:
In most mosques you will see lights: hanging from the beams, ceilings or on the walls. Some are very ornate, large chandelier type, others more simple, ceramic but nonetheless beautiful. For morning and evening prayers, when it is dark, the mosques emit welcoming lights to all those who seek to enter.
LIGHTS IN THE HOMES:
Egyptians generally like LOTS of lights in their home…. as many as you can fit in one room…. and then add a standing lamp! When asked, they cannot explain why: it’s just how it is! A well-lit home is like happiness! There are 2 main “fashions” when it comes to lighting your home, but one theme is the same in both: more is better….. even if you bump your head on the chandelier! The more the merrier… you can never have enough lights!!!
This look usually has a Chandelier in the middle of the room: big, ornate, fancy and expensive! Chandeliers have been in fashion here since the early 1900’s, traditionally copper, now metal, or if you need to go inexpensive…. plastic (which is supposed to look like metal!)
On the walls then, will be added wall lamps, or hidden spot lights, or fluorescent tube lighting behind the railings! Add on a few lamps on the side tables and that will be a standard room.
The modern look is what they call the “American” style: more subtle and peaceful. Hidden wall lamps and spots, lamps on lovely small tables, and mood lighting.
This can include a “Disco ball” light in the middle of your lounge, which can change color and music at the touch of a button.
Light fittings and fixtures are one of the most important things on the list of a new home owner: and the selection available at light shops is completely overwhelming in size, color, range and quantity.
LIGHT ON YOUR HEAD:
Dancing with lit candles on your head, in a layered, ornate style: rather like a chandelier on your head, but with lit candles on each tier! This is said to be at the Henna evening of the bride: usually a day or 2 before the wedding, when she has henna artwork painted on her hands and feet, and celebrates with a group of her female friends and family members.
So whenever you enter a home here, take note of the lights, listen to the compliments, and revel in the warmth and happiness emitting from the wide variety of lights in the life of an Egyptian!