Culturally Savvy: Mouled El Naby

Updated: Jan 7


Images of treats and festive dancers celebrating Muled El Nabi
Google Selection of Muled El Naby images

When we think of celebrating the birth of a Prophet, we typically gravitate towards Christmas. An occasion celebrated so widely that it has become more of a cultural celebration. Tree decorating, candy, gifts, and big family dinners are staples of winter holidays in many homes whether or not they are practicing Christians. The celebration brings joy to millions of families around the world.


Here is a celebration that is not as widely celebrated. Mouled El Naby quite literally translates into “birth of the Prophet”. The Prophet celebrated in this case is Muhamed and the religion is Islam. Interestingly, at least in Egypt, the celebration has also turned into a cultural one over the years.


Some highlights of this particular event include:

  • Candy and treats: Mostly nut and seed brittles, candied and dried fruit, and coconut candies. brightly decorated sugar dolls and horses are a real prize for children.

  • Family meals and gatherings: typically over a meat or fish dish. Many festive dishes include nuts, dried fruits, and coconut.

  • Festivities: In towns and villages, people gather to celebrate. Typically you'll find street food and small stations with musicians, magicians, and storytellers. There are a few basic rides here and there as well.

  • Lights: Streets and squares filled with lights and decorations.


Sounds familiar? I hope so.


The resemblance in the way humans celebrate around the world is hard to miss. It is equally hard to ignore that while Christmas and Mouled El Naby are both religious celebrations in the first degree, they have evolved into more inclusive, cultural celebrations.


To me, this is wonderful news! It highlights and respects a core human need to belong, gather, and celebrate together.


Happy Mouled El Naby to you!


*Cover image source: Google. Couldn't find image source to give credit.