I thought I had done a blog post about Girgian last year but I can’t find one.
Girgian finished last night after three nights of it. It if a mostly Kuwait tradition from way back that happens in the middle of Ramadan. This year for the first time we were prepared with sweets for the children.
It is where the children go house to house close friends and neighbours for sweets. The children are very cute in their traditional clothing. And if you ask them they will sing! Not too badly actually.
Click for a Kuwait Times Article
The modern girgian
Published Date: September 25, 2007
By Ahmad Al-Khaled, Staff writer
Over the years the once simple festivities of the Kuwaiti celebration of girgian, marking the half-way point of Ramadan and three days of enjoyment for children who roam neighborhoods wearing traditional garbs and singing in exchange for candy, has evolved into elaborate gift giving and intricately sewn dara’a.
Many local parents say it has become the new standard for children to give individual gift bags to each student in their child’s class at school. “We began searching for just the right bags and boxes to wrap our candy and nut mix earlier this month,” said Hala Mubarek, a mother of three school age children who further noted, “We make our own girgian treats so it takes quite a while seeing as we need more than 60 gifts, one for each of the twenty or so students in each of my children’s classes.
While Hala puts together each gift individually, most parents buy the pre-packed gifts available at local grocery stores and candy shops all over the state. “We just go to the local jimiya to bring the girgian,” said Um Khaled who furthered, “You must go early though or they run low and then you cannot find 20 of the same type. Also you must have the same for each kid, it’s nicer that way.
Perusing local grocery stores, one can find pre-packaged girgian gifts for 20 students ranging in prices from KD 16 to KD 25. The standard girgian gift consists of a small fabric bag, stuffed animal, basket or box, filled with candy usually containing the traditionally given nuts, but oftentimes containing chocolate bars, gum and other sweet treats.
It is nice to include something from our tradition, like nuts, and also have something like Mars Bars or Hershey chocolate kisses,” said mother of two Aiya Jassem who noted, “We also sometimes use bags that display a traditionally dressed doll on it or boxes in the form of old time Kuwaiti houses. It’s part of girgian to involve something of the past in the package.
While jimiya girgiyan is the choice of most Kuwaitis, some families purchase expensive fine chocolates arranged in metal baskets or painted ceramic boxes. “It costs us about KD 80 for 26 gifts which includes our daughters four teachers,” said Yusef Muhamed who noted, “It is a nicety. We like to do it for our daughter, her class and her teachers.
Shopping for girgian gifts at the trendy Roche chocolate store, Nawaf Abdullah said, “It’s once a year and the family likes to do it, we give gifts to all our family as well as the children’s class.” Also shopping at Roche, Um Abdulrahman said, “There is some show involved. It’s not necessarily to outdo anyone else but you want other parents to recognize your child’s gift. Moreover, we add a card with our sons best regards to make it personal.
Beyond the search for gifts is the purchase of dara’as for girls along with traditional cap and vest for boys, the former being far more involved than the later, and both being found in local co-ops, shops, and in one downtown mall catering to dara’a seekers. “We have the tailor make matching dara’as long before girgian in order to make the girls feel beautiful and special,” said Bedria Ali. “It is an involved search for the nicest dara’a and this can take several trips to find the right one,” said Noor Na
Prices can run anywhere from KD 8 for an infant sized dara’a up to KD50 for a tailor made one of a kind piece. Noor noted, “KD30 is not an unusual price to pay for a second grader. They where it to school for the girgian party and then again for National Day and Liberation Day.” She was quick to add, “Many girls get an entirely new dara’a again for National and Liberation Day. It is part of the school routine-the kids expect it and we deliver.
Um Ahmad, a grandmother of seven sighed when speaking of the involved preparation leading up to modern girgian celebrations, “What happened to the simple days of nuts and small candies?” She answered her own question by saying, “They are gone forever.