Ramadan and the ‘Misri Fanous’

Among the unique aspects of Ramadan in Egypt is the lantern that decorates most of the Egyptian streets during this season known as the Ramadan lantern or fanous, which is the Greek word for light.

The Fatimids, who ruled Egypt more than a thousand years ago, had issued a law requiring shop and house owners to clean the streets in front of their property and hang a lantern on their doors all night. Women were not allowed to leave their houses at night unless accompanied by a boy carrying a lantern. This led to a boom in the lantern business and deepen its attachment to the Egyptian culture.

Egyptians are said to have first used the lantern in 358 Hijri (24 July 968) when the Fatimid Caliph al- Mo’ez entered Cairo at night and Egyptians carried torches and candles as they went out to welcome him, it was 5th of Ramadan. In order to shield the candles from the wind, some of them placed the candles on a wooden platform and wrapped the platform with palm fronds and leather making a lantern. Which explains the link between the ‘Fanous‘ and ‘Ramadan‘.

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