Tunisian Traditions

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Globalization greatly impacted the world and mostly traditions, some of  which were lost or changed in order for the people to fit in better in a society led by western thinking. Fortunately some of our heritage remains. Today, Femmes de Tunisie would like to introduce to a non exhaustive list of traditions that are still carried out in Tunisia.

The party after the Circumcision:
You may have heard of it before, circumcision is a tradition established in Islam by the prophet Muhammad, it is also very important in the Jewish religion. It’s a tradition for us, in Tunisia to celebrate this surgical removal which is called “Thour”. The party includes friends, relatives, yummy foods, laughter and happiness, the perfect combination. In addition to that, the little boy usually gets greats presents. So it’s a win-win for everybody. Some people might make a great deal out of the circumcision and celebrate it in a quite extravagant way with drums and chants.

Karkouch:(for some of the Tunisian people, because it differs from one region to another)
We Tunisians will jump at any opportunity to celebrate. Yes people! So when a baby’s first tooth pokes through, it’s time to host a big party which is called “Karkouch”. Let’s explain how this works.
We take a large mirror and put it inches away from the baby in order to protect it, then we pour a huge box filled with dried fruits and candy on the mirror. Children love this bit. Every little kid present at the party will start jumping up and down and collect the candy. It’s like the trick or treats on Halloween, well the treats part without the scary costumes.

Aid el Fitr:
Let’s paint you the picture. It’s the day after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, we have fasted for a whole month, and we literally cannot wait to get back to eating as much as we want whenever we want. Let’s be honest here, aid al-fitr is the perfect occasion. Food is all around us. Therefore we spend those two days of aid al fitr eating Tunisian pastries and other succulent foods. We (this tradition varies from  region to another) usuallyprepare two kinds of meals: a soup and molokheya which were not chosen randomly. Everything is chosen for a reason. The moloukheya, which is of a deep green colour, symbolizes fertility and a happy year to come.
Also, the family is very important during that period. Relatives visit each other and spend some time together. Children also love aid al-fitr, it’s time for them to get spoiled. It’s like Christmas for them; they get gifts and money (mehba) from relatives. Besides, food and family, we like to pamper ourselves and buy new clothes in order to look fantastic for the two days of celebration.

Celebrations after the death of someone:
We celebrate life, but we also celebrate death in a way. After someone passes away, the family tends to gather in order to honor the deceased. There are multiple celebrations; the wake ceremony (the burial of the deceased), the first and second farq( a few days after the burial), Al ziara(During which a feast is prepared ), Larbin( 40 days after the death). And we finish off with ghlouk el am( which occurs 12 months after the death if the deceased is a man, but it will take place nine months after the death if the deceased is a woman).

By Sonia Ben Miled

Picture: Han Na’a