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How to teach your child more Arabic during the festive seasons

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Feasts and holiday celebrations play a big part in Arabic cultures. Whether you are of Arab descent or have visited an Arab country during a festive season, you would certainly recall the impressive meals and beautiful traditional dresses, alongside the hustle and bustle of vendors and buyers in the streets.

While traditions do vary distinctively from country to country, and as well according to the different religions, there are many common Arabic words that are used for "festive" purposes. I would not be able to cover all of them here, but I'll mention a few ones that could be helpful to you and your little ones, especially if you're trying to teach them more about Arabic language and culture.

Let's start with the word "Eid" which commonly refers to either: Eid Al Adha or Eid Al Fitr. Eid AL Adha corresponds to the "Festival of the Sacrifice", commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God and also has a significant relationship with the Hajj or pilgrimage season; while Eid Al Fitr, is the festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Both are also referred to as "Eid Al Kabeer" or "The Big Eid" and "Eid Al Sagheer" or "The Small Eid".

The most basic saying in Arabic would be "Eid Mubarak" or "A Blessed Eid".

A common saying in Arabic which means: Wishing you goodness every year, goes as follows:

Kol ‘am wa anta bekhair (to a male) – كل عام وأنتَ بخير

‎Kol ‘am wa anti bekhair (to a female) – كل عام وأنتِ بخير

‎Kol ‘am wa antum bekhair (to a group) – كل عام وأنتم بخير

Also that could be used for Happy New Year or the New Year (Eid Ra's Al Sana عيد رأس السنة).

Another saying is: May this holiday return again for you:

Yina’ad alaik/alaiki/alaikom. ينعاد عليك/ عليكي/ عليكم

Another version used in Gulf regions for the same thing would be:

’Asak/’Asach/’Asakom min owwadah. عساك/عساج/عساكم من عواده. (‘Asa meaning may, so; May this holiday return for you).

Some people also say: May this holiday return for you with health and safety (health=sihha; safety=salamah):

Yina’ad aleik/aleiki/aleikom bil sihha w il salamah. (ينعاد عليكم بالصحة والسلامة)

For Christmas, people commonly say: Eid Meelad Majeed (عيد ميلاد مجيد), which means "Glorious Birth Feast" or "Glorious Holiday of Birth".

Happy Easter would be "Eid Fosh Sa'eed" (عيد فصح سعيد) or "E'id Qeyamah Sa'eed" (عيد قيامة سعيد). People in some countries like Lebanon also say: ‘’Al Masih Kam’’ (meaning that Jesus has risen. المسيح قام) , and the other person would typically reply : ‘’Hakkan kam’’ (meaning: Yes, he really has risen. حقا قام).

These were only a few terms, as there are many accents, regions, and countries, as well as different religions and festivals. Holidays are indeed a lovely opportunity to reconnect on a deeper level with loved ones. It could also bridge across cultures and languages. You may introduce some words or phrases to your child in Arabic, such as the greetings mentioned above, or teach them about the corresponding Arabic sweets, food and traditional dresses or decorations.

Here are some tips on how to introduce Arabic words to your child during the festive seasons:

1- Use the corresponding Arabic greetings, such as Eid Mubarak, etc.

2- Immerse in the culture and traditions of the festival and country by organizing a family and friends gatherings. You may wish to serve the traditional food, play the traditional music or religious "Nasheed", and wear the traditional clothes. Teach your child about the names of the food, dresses and other relevant things in Arabic.

3- If not possible to organize an event or attend one, try finding out if there are local events for your Arabic holiday organized in your area. It would be fun for the family to attend a cultural event and have an all-encompassing experience, and actually mix with people who would probably have some Arabic background or interests too.

4- Involve your child in the festive celebrations, whether it's baking the traditional sweets like Ma'moul معمول or decorating the Christmas tree (Shajart El Meelad شجرة الميلاد). Don't forget to use the Arabic words and continue to repeat them often.

5- After the holiday is finished, create a scrap book with pictures and drawings. You can also involve your child in the creative process. Again, use Arabic words and maybe also some writings. Speak about their meaning when you're going through the book together.

Finally, however you may choose to say it, hope your holidays would always be filled with joy and laughs, and lots of Arabic! :)

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