“What’s that?” I asked, zigging left and pirouetting right before gracefully swan-diving over a crowd.
“It’s the national holiday of the beginning of spring,” she explained.
The holiday is celebrated nationwide. It’s basically one big street party spread over many streets. And in a city like Cairo, there are plenty to choose from.
The meaning of Shaman Neshim is ‘harvest season’, known as Shemu, meaning, ‘A day of creation’. The Ancient Egyptians used to offer salted fish (fesih), lettuce, and onions to their deities on this day.
To start our evening escapades, we hit the revolution-made-famous Tahrir (Liberation) Square, where back in 2011 protestors demanded (and got) the ousting of then president, Husseni Mubarak who had ruled the country (which has been under military rule since Gamal Nasser’s revolution in 1952) for almost 30 years.
“The downtown area of Cairo is considered bohemian, where activists, artists and intellectuals would meet at coffee shops like Denda Sou Cafia,” Hadeel guided us through the busy streets. “And it’s walking distance to the Al Hussein mosque.”
The mosque, built in 1154, is considered one of the holiest Islamic sites in Egypt as it holds the oldest complete manuscript of the Quran. Today’s structure stands on a 19th century reconstruction with some Gothic implements.
Pushing our way through the throng of people, vendors and stall holders, each trying to entice us with invitations of, “Come into my shop,”or the ever popular, “Looking is free.”
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Originally published on The Nomadic Diaries
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Photos courtesy of the author.