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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class — Holidays in Egypt Series at ArabicPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Egyptian holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Lesson 19, Henna Night. In Egyptian Arabic, it’s called [ ليلة الحنة (līlet el-ḥennah)].
In this lesson, we are going to talk about one of the nice occasions and one of the most beautiful nights in the life of every woman; the Henna night. The Henna night is the night immediately before the wedding ceremony. All the girls of the family and all the female friends of the bride gather.
There are many unique features of Henna night, especially in Egypt, which we will cover in this lesson.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question—
Do you know what Egyptians throw on the bride on Henna night?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
One of the most famous parts of Henna night in Egypt is the existence of a black Nubian woman who is named [ الحنانه (el-ḥannanah)], or the woman who paints tattoos. The is the woman who paints Henna tattoos for the girls on their hands and legs. There are a lot of very beautiful Henna tattoos such as butterflies, eyes, Nubian decorations, anklets, and many other things. These tattoos are always creative.
On Henna night, the female friends of the bride gather and dance with her. They sing a lot of songs which were made especially for Henna night. Girls have a strange tradition on this night in which they pinch the bride on her knee and repeat a famous Egyptian saying – "I pinch her knee in order to marry after her in the same week"; in other words, they do that to marry soon. On this night, the bride's mother perfumes the bride with incense and makes her hold a big plate full of Henna, or [ حنه(ḥennah)] and lighted candles.
Henna night is usually an exclusive event for girls and women alone. However, middle class bridegrooms and brides gather with their relatives and friends on this night. Thus, the celebration will include women and the male friends of the bridegroom as well.
The most beautiful sound on Henna night is the sound of [ زغرودة(zaġrūdah)], or a high trilling sound that is commonly uttered by women on joyous occasions.
On Henna night, there will be a plate full of pieces of sugar, and unmarried girls must eat from it in order to get married. This is definitely a wrong belief, or [ اعتقاد(eʿteqād)], that belongs to old traditional legacies.
And now I'll give you the answer to the earlier quiz.
Do you know what Egyptians throw on the bride on Henna night?
Egyptians throw salt on the bride because they believe that it will keep the evil eyes away from her – that is, the evil eyes of her unmarried female friends.
So listeners, how was this lesson? How do brides or grooms in your country spend the night before their wedding? Let us know in the comments and we’ll see you next time! Bye! مع السلامة (maʿ el-salāmah)!