My daughter is half Moroccan and when I was married to her father we traveled to Morocco several times. Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to so far. I love almost everything about Morocco. The sights, the food, the culture, the very nice people. Moroccan people are very very nice and they are true hosts. Their hospitality is some of the best in the world.
Morocco is in North West Africa. If you travel to the Moroccan Mediterranean, it almost seems as if you can swim to Spain. In fact, historically, Morocco has had the influence of French, Spanish, African, and Arab culture. This blend has created a truly diverse people and a very rich culture. The Kingdom of Morocco is a Constitutional Monarchy. Morocco has both a King and Prime Minister. The crown passes to the King’s closest male relative, whereas the Prime Minister is elected. People from Morocco are called Moroccans.
I must admit that I never tasted any dish in Morocco that I did not like. Everything is so delicious! Food and hospitality go hand in hand in Morocco. Every time you visit any Moroccan home you must eat something! (Even if you are still full from the house you just visited before.) I learned really quick to eat just a tiny bit of everything, because everywhere you go, you most likely will be offered more food. It’s polite to make sure you taste everything too, or you will hurt the hostesses feelings. Moroccan women are amazing cooks and it is an honor for them to show off their skills, especially to foreign visitors. Moroccan people are very proud of their cuisine, and they have every right to be.
Another interesting thing is that food is placed in big platters in the center of huge tables. Moroccan meal times are crowded. Family, friends, neighbors… a friend you just plucked off the street moments earlier… All will gather around the table to eat and chat. To eat Moroccan style is to eat with your hand (right hand) or use bread to scoop food or sauce. This is good though, because no one will know how much you really ate, because everyone is eating from the same plate. (This comes in handy when you have been eating too much all day and night. You can get away with having a few bites here and there.) 😉
A Moroccan breakfast many times consist of a Moroccan type of pancake (called Msemmen), honey, juice and tea. Actually Tea is served all the time during the day or night, and Moroccan tea is hot, sweet, and minty. Moroccan lunch can be a variety of things. Many times it is some kind of meat/veggie puree/sauce that you eat with bread. My favorite was these French baguette sandwiches that had some kind of seafood paste. Kind of like Tuna. We ate them on the beach, bought from vendors. The most famous Moroccan dish is couscous. It contains steamed veggies (carrots, squashes, and such), with some type of meat, served over couscous, which is like a kind of pasta called semolina. There are also sweet varieties that are made with dates, raisins, and cinnamon.
MOROCCAN FOLK DRESS:
Although Morocco is accepting of modern western fashion, many Moroccans choose to wear traditional garments anyway. Sometimes they choose western/traditional randomly. Most Moroccans do dress conservatively as they are a Muslim people. Folk or traditional dress varies, as there are several different types of people in Morocco. Most Moroccans are from Moorish ancestors descended from Arabs, but many are also Berber as well.
In the Sahara region of Morocco are the Tuareg, who are a people from an ancient Berber tribe. Most of them still live nomadic lives in the Sahara desert. There are Tuareg (also called Blue Men, because of the blue head coverings they wear) in other North African countries too.
Moroccans all speak a Moroccan dialect of Arabic that is unique to Morocco. Although most Moroccans know classical Arabic because they are Muslim, they will only use it in everyday conversation if they are speaking with non-Moroccan Arabs. Berber Moroccans also speak the Berber dialect. All educated Moroccans speak, read, and write in French. Children begin to learn it immediately in schools. French is the official second language of Morocco. It is also the language of official government business and diplomacy. Many signs in Morocco are written in Arabic and French.
Moroccans are also great linguist. Young people, from the urban/suburban areas usually pick a 3rd, and sometimes 4th, language to study. Morocco is a big on tourism, the fact that many people speak a variety of languages, and they hang on to that traditional culture foreigners love to experience, makes them one of the biggest tourist countries in the world. Knowing many of their visitor’s languages also helps them to be more friendly to strangers. This probably has a lot to do with why Moroccans have a reputation for being friendly, warm, and welcoming. I met Moroccans who spoke (aside from their language and French) English, German, Spanish, and Italian as well.
Moroccan is written using the Arabic system of writing. It is also written/read from right to left.
Even though there are a very small number of Christians and Jews in Morocco, Moroccans are mostly Muslim. Islam was the religion of the Umayyad conquerors of Syria, who spread into North Africa and then into Spain, in the 8th century. The Moors would not be pushed back down into North Africa and expelled from Spain until the Spanish Inquisition under Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile (the King and Queen of Spain during the Renaissance Era). Much of the Architecture in Morocco (Mosques and even homes) are still done in the Moorish style, and in lower Spain, the same Moorish architecture still exists.
TOYS AND GAMES IN MOROCCO:
Children in Morocco are like most children around the world. They love the same toys (building blocks, dolls, toy cars). However, Moroccan children love to play outdoors a lot, and they are very inventive and can make toys and games out of anything. You will notice that toys can be more expensive sometimes in Morocco than a lot of Western countries. One reason could be is that Moroccan children prefer to make their own toys and invent their own games. Children play together in packs there and there is a lot of things lying around for them to get into. There is way more group play there, than solitary play. 😉
MUSIC IN MOROCCO:
Music in Morocco is played by men and women, however usually the men play the traditional music, while the women dance. Traditional Moroccan music, usually consist of drums, some string instruments (usually bowed), and some woodwinds. The music is very tribal and rhythmic. Malhun music is unique to Morocco. It is a melodic poem and very traditional. It’s roots are traced all the way back to Andalusian classical music of their Moorish ancestors.
Moroccans love Western music and their musicians. Their own Modern music emulates these styles as well. Rai music is also popular in Morocco, which is a kind of pop/dance music unique to North Africa. Also some Moroccan musicians add the electronic dance vibe to their music. This artist blends Rai and electronic styles:
DANCING IN MOROCCO:
Traditional dancing in Morocco, mostly preformed by women (though there are some dances for men), has many elements of Middle Eastern belly dancing. However, in Morocco it is typically a tribal style of belly dance. This dance, called Chaabi, is such a tribal style of dance:
GNAOUA WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL:
This music festival is held every summer in the city of Essaouria. Different styles of musicians and dancers, from traditional to modern to experimental, come together and share their art and culture with their fellow Moroccans, as well as any tourist who attend.
MOROCCAN INDEPENDENCE DAY:
Morocco celebrates her independence on November 18th. This is a day for celebrating the return of the exiled king, Sultan Mohammed V and the end of the French Protectorate. The new king Mohammed VI, (grandson of the once exiled king, now resides in the royal palace in Rabat and wears the Sultan’s crown.) All Moroccans from all regions celebrate this holiday in much the same way. There are parades in the big cities, with vendors selling all kinds of traditional food and wares. In Rural areas, there is also feasting and dancing. Moroccans celebrate being Moroccan. The Moroccan flag is flown and is symbolic of the country’s freedom. The red is for the ruling dynasty, the green is for Islam, the star is the seal of Solomon- and its points, the five pillars of Islam.
The Khamsa hand (or hand of Fatima) is something of a good luck/protection charm. Like most people, Moroccans are not without their superstitions. This hand is usually worn as jewelry or hung inside the house. The Khamsa hand can be traced all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia! People use the charm and ward against the “Evil Eye.” There are many reasons for gifting a Khamsa hand to a loved one. One reason is a gift for a newborn baby. My daughter’s grandmother gifted her with a gold Khamsa hand necklace after she was born.
Today the Khmasa hand is a tradition. The ancient meaning is to protect the baby from jealous Djinn. Djinn are creatures that are supernatural like Angels, but unlike Angels- like humans, they have free will to be good, evil, or indifferent. Some can be jealous and malicious, especially when a baby is born and everyone is saying how beautiful he/she is. Like in a lot of mythological stories, gods and supernatural creatures get annoyed when they are not in the center of attention.
Now the Khamsa hand has more symbolism related to Islam. For instance the five fingers symbolize the five pillars of Islam. Usually it is a symbol that represents blessings, power, and strength. Regarding a baby, it’s a hope for a healthy baby.
Khamsa hands are very beautifully decorated. You can print this one out on card stock, paint, or color it, cut it out and hang it.
Moroccan style of architecture is the same as Moorish architecture. The windows in Morocco are exquisite works of art. In this project, you can cut out the white areas inside the window, then use colored tissue paper behind it, to make a Moorish style stained glass window effect. Or, you can color it if you want.