The Sebou Naming Ceremony

In Egypt, all families, both rich and poor, Coptic or Muslim, rural or urban, will celebrate the birth of a child with the Sebou. Sebou means 'seventh' and is one of the oldest and most beloved celebrations in Egypt. During the Sebou, the family of the newborn gathers when a baby of either sex is seven days old.

If The Mother Is Healthy And Happy, It Must Be A Boy

Egyptian birth rituals begin before birth. Since boys are preferred in Egyptian culture, the family of the pregnant women will attempt to set an auspicious environment for a male child by making wishes, paying alms, visiting shrines and slaughtering lambs and sheep. According to Egyptian folk lore, if the mother appears to be healthy and happy, she is assumed to be carrying a male child. If, however, she has rashes, discolorations, or redness of her face or body, it is assumed that the mother is carrying a girl. By the pregnant woman's sixth month, the shape of her belly is a gender predictor, too, with a round belly signifying that the mother carries a male child.

On the arrival of the seventh day after birth, the Sebou ceremony begins.  The baby is bathed and then after dressed in a new outfit. The new mother and women members of the family will prepare a feast that includes a lamb or a sheep slaughtered for this purpose. To ward off the evil eye, salt is scattered on the mother and around the home of the new infant. The baby is then placed in a decorated cradle and taken for a tour of the family home, with members of the family following behind, carrying lit candles.

Older Women Relatives Make Loud Noises To Train The Baby

During the Sebou, the infant's mother will step over the baby seven times without touching the infant, while older women relatives will make loud noises to train the baby to be aware of sounds. Grandparents have their own role, in which they will shake the baby from side to side and order the small infant to answer and obey only his own family.

A festive meal is served, after which bags filled with candies, such as nougat, and silver and golden coins are distributed to the guests. 

It is during the Sebou that a family, according to tradition, would name the newborn child, circumcise boys and pierce the ears of newborn girls. Today, however, these practices are kept only in urban areas, and are often no longer associated with the Sebou ceremony and the seventh day postpartum.

If you are interested in different cultures and their naming ceremonies, check out our articles on Jewish naming ceremonies, Hindu naming ceremonies, and Pagan naming ceremonies.

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