A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Khamsin Blowing in Cairo Today

Tahrir Square is Said to Be in There Somewhere
It's April in Egypt, the time of year when the Sahara desert sometimes drops in to the Nile Valley for a visit.The caption — the photo's from Zeinobia's blog — claims the above shows Tahrir Square. I'll have to take their word for it. It's the Khamsin, the sandstorms that blow in spring from the West, and this looks like one of the really bad examples.

Edward William Lane's great Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians says the Khamsin (Arabic for "fifty") can blow from the day after Coptic Easter until Pentecost, hence the name. There are other etymologies, but that one will do. The day after Coptic Easter (Sham al-Nasim) was Monday.

My first year in Egypt we experienced a really bad Khamsin like the one in the photo, exacerbated by the fact that one of my flatmates thought it was stuffy and decided to open the windows. Sand, of course, was everywhere.

At least it should cool down the political heat over the Presidential disqualifications. Who's going to demonstrate in that?

1 comment:

David Mack said...

The memory is so strong that this picture makes my eyes itch. How very Egyptian to hitch it to a Coptic religious calendar, or some kind of religious calendar!