Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

You May Be Surprised by the Gulf Tradition That Is Similar to Halloween

Though Halloween is not very widespread in the Middle East, a tradition known as Garge’an  (قرقيعان‎ in Arabic) is somewhat similar. Rooted deep in Gulf culture, Garge’an occurs on the 15th night of Ramadan, and is celebrated by children who dress in traditional outfits and go door-to-door singing cultural songs and asking for sweets and nuts from their neighbors. A custom that stems back hundreds of years, Garge’an is an event that children look forward to for months in advance in the Gulf countries (most popular in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). Our photographer Mohammed Alfaraj took some photos this year of Garge’an being celebrated in Saudi Arabia. Many of the children can be seen together in small groups, where the tradition dictates they should gather and sing. The traditional song sung in Garge’an is meant to be a blessing upon the youngest child of the family, asking God to protect them and keep them healthy. Often, children who sing more and for longer get rewarded with more sweets.

Similar to Halloween in that it involves costumes and the concept of “trick-or-treating” (going door to door to receive candy), Garge’an has nothing to do with the gore or horror that has become popular in Western celebrations of the event.

Do you celebrate Halloween? What is your favorite part about it? 

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