Each week I spend two grueling hours getting the Arabic language pounded into my head. It’s usually somewhat painful for me because I get so busy doing my all my youth ministry stuff during the week that I rarely find time to practice my Arabic skills. So, about an hour before my Arabic lesson I do all the homework that was assigned to me and relearn the things that were stuffed into my head the previous week. It’s certainly not the prime conditions for learning Arabic. Anyways, during my last Arabic class we somehow got on the topic of dating. Apparently there is no such thing in the Egyptian culture. You are either engaged, or you are acquaintances. After drilling our Arabic teacher with questions about this topic, we came to the conclusion that Egyptian engagements are the closest thing to the Western concept of dating.
When an Egyptian gets engaged, the man gives the woman a ring, and their family has a big engagement party where all their friends are invited. I suppose this is not unlike a Western engagement in this regard. The big difference is that Egyptian engagements are the time where the man and woman decide if they really like each other and want to follow through with marriage. If they decide that they don’t really like each other that much, the woman gives her ring back, and the two part ways. So, I guess Egyptians pretty much just combine the custom of dating and engagement together. Interesting, I know. Unfortunately we didn’t get onto the subject of paying the bride’s father with camels and sheep. Perhaps next week we’ll talk about that. I sort of doubt they do that anymore. Anyways, there’s your Egyptian culture lesson for today.