Ramadan commemorates the first relevation of the holy Koran. A reader in Kuwait tells us about the Ramadan celebration in Kuwait which is called Guirgian. His class of 8-year olds have been excited all week. It seems that a child celebration was immanent. It is part of the Ramadan celebration. The giving and collection of the gift is preceded by a procession of noisy children playing drums very loudly, clapping and singing a special song for the occasion.This ceremony takes place in many Islamic countries. The celebration is given different names and takes different forms.
Ramadan is the most important celebration of the year to all Muslims. It commemorates the first relevation of the holy Koran. Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the year throughout the Islmic world. The Mulim calandar is lunar, thus Ramadan over time occurs during different seasons. Moslems strictly fast during the day light hours. While Ramadan is celebrated throughout the Islamic world, there are differences from country to coutry. Children also receive treats, for example, in Tajikistan at the end of Ramadan. The celebration is called Children’s Eid Treat Day
class of 8-year olds have been excited all week. It seems that a child celebration was immanent. In Kuwait a special celebration happens about the 14th day of Ramadan. The ceremony involves children wearing traditional costumes to receive a gift of candy.
Adults give this to children as well as by children to other children. It is an event equally liked by girls and boys. The children wear a western-style school uniform, but for Guirgian they wear special costumes in traditional styles.
The gift is given in a special decorated package. It is a wonderful selection of candies. Each child has a Guirgian bag into which they put the sweets they collect. The bags come in all kinds of different forms. They are part of the traditional costumes that the children wear. The bag can have Arabic writing on it. I think the words wish everyone a happy Guirgian.
The giving and collection of the gift is preceded by a procession of noisy children playing drums very loudly, clapping and singing a special song for the occasion.
The ceremony is called Guirgian.
The sweets are imported from East Asia and Europe. They are hard-boiled candy and mixed with them are nuts and dates. There are special colourful boxes into which the sweets are packed and then one packet is given to each child. However, the gift does not need to be given in this special way. The candy can be distributed by giving each child unwrapped by the hand full.
The outfits the children wear are new clothes specially bought to celebrate the ceremony. For boys the costume is a ‘Dishdasha’ over this is worn a waistcoat. This is often black in colour with elaborate golden patterns embroidered into the garment. The boys wear a similarly embroidered hat called a ‘Gahfiya.’ Girls wear a ‘Bokhneg’. This is a transparent loose fitting outer garment. The traditional colour is black but many girls wear a much brighter coloured one. Favourite colours are red, yellow and blue. The girl here wears one in the red, white, and green colors of the national flag (figure 1). There is a matching ‘Guirgian bag’ that is an important accessory. Traditional footwear worn with this garment are sandals. However few children wore them. Most had trainers or sports shoes.
I heard children singing throughout the Guirgian celebration which lasts 3 days. The song, which is sung, runs thus:
“Guirgian wa guirian beit al sayed wa Ramadan, a det alaykum siyan, kul sannna wa kul aam.”
The words and meaning come from an Arab Times report about the Guirgian ceremony.
The song means wishing you a good Ramadan fast ever year.
The children sing a verse
“Yasoug al humar aw maya-soug?;
The children are asking if they are to leave or do they stay back.
An answer in the affirmative means a shower of Guirgian sweets for the singing children so reports the Arab Times reporter.
The traditional celebration has changed over the years. It used to be that children went from house to house knocking on doors asking for sweets--rather like Trick or Treat in America. It is the door knock which gives ‘Guirgian” its name because this Arab word means ‘to knock.’
Now a days the collection of Guirgian gifts is given within the family or a school based activity. The children arrive in school with a decorated basket. In it is a “Guirgian gift” for every class member as well as for the teacher.
At the end of the day children go home loaded with enough candy to last for many days to come.
I suspect that it will keep the family dentist busy. There are also many Guirgian parties that employers and organisations organise for their worker’s children. There is singing and dancing at these events. There are about a hundred or so parties organised so that as many families as possible can enjoy this special occasion in Ramadan.
This ceremony takes place in many Islamic countries. The celebration is given different names and takes different forms. In Egypt children take a small lamb with them when they go knocking for sweets.
There may be cultural variations but the end result is the same. Children have a good time while they collect their Guirgian candy gifts and an even better one eating them. Hopefully, a happy eating experience not just in a single night of candy feasting but one that can be enjoyed for many days to come.
Valiya S. Sajjd. "?????" The Arab Times (October 16, 2005).
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Main Kuwait page]
[Main Middle Eastern page]
[Main Islam page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Girls]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites]
[Boys' Clothing Home]