Fannous Ramadan or Ramadan lanterns are a must-have in every Egyptian household. These colorful pieces of folklore are still cherished today by millions of people in Egypt and beyond.
This millennium-old tradition has been putting smiles on the faces of children for as long as we can remember.
We grew up waiting for Ramadan in order to play with the fannous (فانوس) with friends and neighbors.
Wherever there are Egyptians abroad, you're bound to find a fannous or two!
1. This is how it all started
The use of lanterns as decorative items associated with Ramadan is believed to have originated during the 10th century in Fatimid Egypt.
There are numerous stories about how it all started, one of which suggests that the Caliph Al-Muizz was greeted by Egyptian subjects holding lanterns to celebrate his arrival at Cairo during the holy month of Ramadan.
Another one states that while a Fatimid Caliph was on his way for the sighting of the crescent, which marks the start of the holy month, he was accompanied by Egyptian children holding lanterns and singing Ramadan songs.
2. Ramadan is never complete without a fannous
Till today youths in old neighborhoods collect money from their neighbors to use it to make a big lantern themselves.
They decorate it with colorful ribbons, attach a light bulb and hang it in the middle of their hara (حارة) in a bid to show their skills and commitment to tradition.
May the best lantern win!
3.It's Ramadan! Let there be light!
4. Traditional lanterns are decorated with Arabic calligraphy
Fawanees can be decorated with verses from the Quran, names of God in Arabic, or a simple Ramadan greeting, like Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak.
5. Reclaiming an old market
The import of cheap lanterns has harmed traditional fannous makers in Egypt. In light of this, the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade banned the import of Ramadan lanterns from China in 2015.
The decision was considered to be a long-awaited turning point for Egypt, as many in the country had been purchasing cheap lanterns out of convenience.
6. Fawanees are all about love
Brides are usually given a lantern by their grooms. It's a tradition that we're proud of.
7. We can't wait to welcome Ramadan with our lanterns!
Although lanterns are a treat for youngsters, the child in all of us can't help but fall in love with all the colorful lights come every Ramadan!