Throw out the old year… literally…



Many of us know this saying, but when it comes to the New Year in Egypt, in many places an interesting (if not dangerous) custom has been literally to see the old year out by throwing things out…. the window!


New Year in Egypt follows the usual patterns of a celebration day… bearing in mind that there are different New Years: the Islamic New Year for 2016 will be October 1 and 2 but the more commonly used these days is the Gregorian New Year, which is December 31st (Eve) and January 1st (New Year’s Day).

The usual things that can be seen during the celebrations:

  • fireworks (from steel wire set alike and swung around like a lasso, to bug spray cans with the nozzle forced down and the spray set alight….. to imported fancy fireworks)
  • loud music (with its powerful rhythm and beat echoing in the back of your head)
  • people wearing new clothes, usually beautiful bright colors
  • gatherings of friends and family for food and more food
  • choruses of “Kol sanne wi inta tayeb” and “mabrook” (the Arabic words of celebration meaning: congratulations, every year you are kind)
  • and for the fancier homes and hotels, glorious displays of fireworks!


One thing that we did find surprising was discovering that people throw old things out of their windows at the turn of the new year: cups, plates and even an old toilet or 2! These are thrown out of the apartment windows onto the road below.

When asking around to try and find out where this tradition came from and what it means, I managed to find out there is a rather interesting saying:

When you have a visitor that you don’t really want to return, when they leave, you say:

“Break the water jar behind him” (literally throw the simple clay water jar that is prevalent here in Egypt, on the floor and break it). This is thought to make sure that this unwelcome visitor will not return.

A similar thinking appears to have emerged for seeing the old year leave: to make sure that the bad things that may have happened during the old year do not return for the coming year, you break things behind him, by throwing old stuff out your window. You break the plate, cup, ceramic toilet, pot, behind the old year, making sure that the new one will only be filled with good things!


Not every one agrees with this custom, and several will say it is nothing more than superstition, but mothers will warn their children not to go outside for fear that something will fall on their heads. The more modern youngsters have started throwing water balloons around, as they view this as more fun and less harmful.


So whenever you happen to read this, we hope that the year ahead of you will be a good one, and that every year will indeed find you being kind, respectful and considerate!

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