Saturday, 28 April 2012

Spring Celebration

Thank you for your kindness, prayers and all the magic your sent our way

Amber pup is back home and our family of two is all together now and  finally we're able to see all that has been hidden behind the dark fog that overshadowed our lives in the past few weeks and we breath all of life, growth and magic in.

Upon arriving to our Village on the hell, we were met with Spring delights, we heard the earth joyful shouts in all colors and parades of colorful birds and their songs, some are familiar and some are quite new..

We've crossed through fields of orange fire that sprung through the green..

and fields of gold that once upon a time were green,

Spring onion and Dill flowers are all in bloom..

And like every year, the lake receded leaving abundant of fish trapped in natural pools, easily caught by fishermen and birds all the same...

New born camel among his keen, celebrating among the abundance of green..

and as ever in bloom, bougainvillea flowers in all colors..
and delicate flowers has sprung amid the sharp thorns of cactus trees..

and these are our friends of the Spring..

We felt the breeze of that hurried the waves of the lake and the waves of the desert sand all the same, we made our way toward our nook inhaling the many colors and joys of this season.. until we reached our nook gate way..

we were delighted to meet..our neighbors of the season

The crafty sparrows built his nest on my patio's lamp shade..

And a modest morning dove found in my door's lamp shade a safe heaven for her nest..

where she lovingly guarded her precious ones.
Delighted as we were, we knew right then, our patio and balcony lights for weeks shall be lit no more.. but we don't mind.

But like we witnessed life, we also witnessed death.. cars speeding unaware of precious fluttering soul, with wings the color of Autumn leaves, withered before their bloom.

And once again like every year, there comes a day when the Spring carries on  it's breeze the haunting, unmistakable smell of desiccated fish, eggs, onions and lettuce and all that was once upon a time an offering to the ancient gods to ensure a good harvest. It was the day we celebrated Sham El Nessim! 

Sham Al-Nessim --literally "Smelling/Taking in of th Zephyrs"-- is a holiday as old as Egypt marking the advent of Spring. It's a holiday regardless of religious and social class we Egyptians celebrate it just as our ancestor did 4500 years ago!  the name is actually derived from the ancient Egyptian harvest season, Shemu, the "the renewal of life" the festival coincided with the vernal equinox and the ancient imagined that the day represented the beginning of the creation and it was linked to agricultural activity in ancient Egypt. the date of Shemu was not fixed. Rather, it was announced every years on the night before the feast at the foot of the great pyramid, and the festival included fertility rites and ancient harvest festivals that were later attached to Christianity and the celebration of Easter and now a day it falls on the first Monday after Coptic Easter.

A custom termed Sham El Nessim is observed on early in the morning of this day, many persons, especially women, break an onion, and smell it; and in the course of the forenoon many of the citizens of Cairo ride or walk a little way into the country, or go in boats, generally northward, to take the air, or, as they term it, smell the air, which on that day they believe to have a wonderfully beneficial effect. The greater number dine in the country or on the river. In Sham El Nessim the early morning brings out  millions of Egyptians who crowd open green spaces even if that means ending up sitting on grassy patches next to roads, due to the scarcity of public parks and open areas in Cairo. Families start at dawn preparing their food, then take their blankets with them and enjoy the breeze of spring.

Salted fish symbolized to the ancient Egyptians fertility and welfare. And so at the centre of the festival's menu is fesikh "grey mullet". Fesikh  is prepared in a traditional process that is considered almost an art form. The process of preparing the fish is passed from one generation to another to insure its quality. other types of fish used also are sardines mackerel and anchovies.

But it is not all about fish to name but the basics, There are the  lettuce and Green onions and both have a special significans in the occasion. Lettuce represents the feeling of the hopefulness at the beginning of the spring and the spring onions was mentioned in a papyrus relating to legends of Old Memphis:

 "It is said that one of the pharaohs had an only child who was so much loved by the people. The young prince was struck down by an unknown disease and bed-ridden for years, during which time the people abstained from celebrating festivals in sympathy for the king and his son. The king summoned the arch priest of the Temple of Oun, who diagnosed the boy's sickness as having been caused by evil spirits. The priest ordered that a ripe spring onion be placed under the patient's head. The priest sliced a second onion and put it on the boy's nose so that he would breathe in the vapors. The papyrus text says that the prince soon recovered and festivities were held in the palace to mark the occasion which coincided with the beginning of spring season. As a goodwill gesture for their king, the people hung bunches of scallion over the doors of their houses, which explains how it came to be a main item on the table at Sham El Nessim."

Also there's the colored eggs which are a very distinctive feature of Sham El nessim and Spring celebrations world wide in general. 

Eggs represented life and  creation to Ancient Egyptians, one of the customs celebrating Shemu was to dye, draw and write wishes on the eggs and then hang them on trees or in temples to receive the blessings of light from Amon, god of the sun, and so eating eggs in that day was a scared ritual. New to the celebrations this year and to my disappointment there were the plastic Chinese eggs! The colouring and eating of natural eggs has been replaced by buying and coloring artificial ones.

Speaking of colored egg, I show you here my failed attempt to draw on a raw egg shell, which has been crushed before it was completed.
But that didn't put my festive appetite down,  egg-less as I was, I decided to celebrate my Sham El Nessim and move back to drawing on paper..

With imagery floating about me of  Jasmine flowers, bird's nest & dragon fly,

Fesikh & Lettuce, 
Butterfly & Dill flowers,
Spring Onions & Rabbit with Spring in it's eyes

Lady bug & a gentle smile on a cleftlip
And that was the joyful face of our Sham El Nessim.

From Amber pup and I, We wish you all a magical Spring time.


  1. Ah so nice Hussam! You bring me to Egypt with your words.

  2. What a wonderful post!! There is so much here! First I'm so glad that you are reunited with your Amber pup!! Great news.

    The feeling of celebration is here. You show the beauty of your country and its customs and present us with a drawing that I think is my favorite!
    All the elements in the drawing fit so well. Really a quality work Hussam. I would like to see a series of these egg shaped drawings:)) Happy Sham el Nessim!!!

  3. Lovely, lovely, lovely!
    And so happy your pup and you are reunited!

  4. Hey,
    i really like your art. would i be able to reference your site and post an image in my blog about the equinox and true easter?

    Please let me know as I would like to complete my post asap!

    1. Hi Lauren, thank you for visiting and for your nice comment, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy my work and you're more than welcome to use my art with a reference and if you could send me a link to your post once its ready, that would be wonderful :)

      Warm wishes

    2. Hi H,

      Thank you so much, very excited to have your work be a part of the spring post for Fruits to the Roots.

      Please check it out and keep in touch


    3. You're most welcome, Laureen and thank you for including my art in your spring-fragrant post :)