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By Caelon Reed
Morocco's temples alone will make your jaw drop. Browsing web pictures of Morocco, I’m amazed at how different it looks compared to the States. It made me wonder what else is different there. So I went on a search and comprised a list of 5 Moroccan cultural tidbits. Here's what I found:
1. Moroccan Etiquette
If I were sent on an expedition to Morocco tomorrow, I would be frantic. I wouldn’t know how to behave so as not to offend those around me. I found that when dressing in Morocco, it is polite to wear clothes that don’t bare too much skin. So I should leave my Daisy Dukes and crop tops in the States. Another thing I found? Don’t take any photos--even selfies--unless you’ve asked permission. Be especially careful to avoid photographing government and military property. I’m better off taking memory shots of the exterior buildings and museums that allow it. ALSO, I’m right-handed, so naturally I do most things with my right hand, which works in my favor in Morocco because they reserve the left hand for bathroom activities and cleaning. Last but not least, to show my manners for someone who invited me to their house, it’s deemed polite that I bring a gift. Noted.
In America we have celebrate our birthday every year, making an especially big deal about the 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays with a clichéd party and tons of gifts. Well, in Morocco, the seventh day of a child’s life is super-important. It's celebrated with a ceremony known as “Akika." After the first seven days of a child’s life, relatives and neighbors attend the ceremony and chant from the Holy Quran. It is customary to sacrifice an animal for the child to remove harmful spirits. After the ceremony, there’s dancing and singing and then an announcement of the child’s name. Wow, this just puts American baby showers to shame.
3. Argan Oil
I once got a tip to use Moroccan argan oil on my hair to make it shine, and boy did it ever. However, I had no idea that the oil is also used for health benefits. It can be used as a dietary supplement and a way of lowering cholesterol. I’m all for natural medications so I will be spreading the word. Moroccans also use the oil for dipping bread. I can’t believe it’s not butter!
Henna to me has always just been cool nonpermanent designs, like tattoos that won't make your mom mad. I was oblivious to its use in Moroccan customs. Many of the symbols created with henna carry the intent to ward off the evils of black magic, eyes and mind. Henna also plays a big role at weddings; the bride adorns herself in it as a tool of seduction and to complement her dress. Henna is so important for weddings, that a whole evening is devoted to it, focusing on decorating the hands and feet of the bride.
As an American, the only time I’ve shared water with someone is in a swimming pool or hot tub. In Morocco they have hammams, which are public steam baths. Originally they were the only way of bathing in Morocco. Now they’re used as sort of a nostalgic thing and a common place for women to meet and chat with their friends.