In his book, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, Edward William Lane wrote in 1834:
A custom termed 'Shemm en-Nessem' (or the Smelling of the Zephyr) is observed on the first day of the Khamaseen. Early in the morning of this day, many persons, especially women, break an onion, and smell it; and in the course of the forenoon many of the citizens of Cairo ride or walk a little way into the country, or go in boats, generally northward, to take the air, or, as they term it, smell the air, which on that day they believe to have a wonderfully beneficial effect. The greater number dine in the country or on the river. This year they were treated with a violent hot wind, accompanied by clouds of dust, instead of the neseem; but considerable numbers, notwithstanding, went out to 'smell' it.
Also From Wikipedia:
- People spend all day out picnicking in any space of green, public gardens, on the Nile, or at the zoo.
- Traditional food eaten on this day consists mainly of Feseekh (a salted Grey Mullet), lettuce, scallions or green onions, tirmis or Lupini Beans, and colored boiled eggs.So while you're enjoying delicious ham and Cadbury Mini Eggs, I will be out sniffing the refreshing Cairo air and dining on salted Grey Mullet. Jealous much? Yeah, I thought so.Wishing you a Happy Easter, a Happy Sham El Nessim, a Happy Vernal Equinox and a Happy General Conference Weekend. May your air smell beneficial and your fish taste salty!