Children across the United Arab Emirates will be taking to the streets of their neighbourhoods on Monday night, March 6th, to celebrate the traditional event of Hag Al Laila. Children across the UAE will take to the streets of their neighbourhoods on Monday night knocking on doors and calling out ‘Atoona Hag Al Laila”, which means “Give us sweets for tonight”. This event, which has been celebrated for hundreds of years, marks the arrival of Ramadan and is one of the Emirati traditional celebrations in the middle of Sha’aban, the eighth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar.
Hag Al Laila, which translates to “For this Night”, is not a Halloween tradition for trick or treating, but rather a cultural event where Emirati children go from door to door singing and collecting sweets and treats from neighbors. In preparation for the event, families stock up on traditional sweets and nuts to welcome the visiting children.
The purpose of the event is not just to celebrate, but also to educate the public about the occasion and the month of Ramadan and promote the values of sharing and giving. The event also serves as a way to promote unity within the community.
Although the event is primarily celebrated in the UAE, it is also celebrated across the Muslim community, albeit with different names. In Qatar, it is called Garangao; in Bahrain, it is called Gergaoon; in Oman, it is called Garangesho, and in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, it is called Gargean.
As the celebration of Hag Al Laila approaches, families and communities are looking forward to participating in the tradition and spreading joy and happiness throughout their neighbourhoods.
The history behind Hag Al Laila
Hag Al Laila, which is celebrated in the middle of Sha’aban, the eighth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, is an event that is steeped in tradition and culture. It is a time when Emiratis come together to celebrate the arrival of Ramadan, which is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The event is also an opportunity for families to teach their children about the values of sharing, giving, and community.
Hag Al Laila preparations
The preparations for Hag Al Laila begin several days before the actual event. Families throng groceries and shops that sell traditional sweets and nuts before welcoming visiting children. Many households also decorate their homes with colorful lanterns and lights, which adds to the festive atmosphere of the event.
On the day of the event, children dress up in traditional clothes and take to the streets in groups, accompanied by their parents or older siblings. They knock on doors and sing the Hag Al Laila song, which is a catchy tune that has been passed down from generation to generation. The song is usually accompanied by clapping and dancing, which adds to the joyous spirit of the event.
The event is not just about collecting sweets and treats, but also about fostering a sense of community. It provides an opportunity for neighbors to come together, share in the festivities, and learn about each other’s cultures and traditions. Many households also take the opportunity to donate food and clothing to those in need, which is in line with the values of Ramadan.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of preserving Emirati culture and tradition. As a result, there has been a renewed interest in celebrating events such as Hag Al Laila. Schools and community organizations also play an important role in promoting and preserving Emirati culture by organizing events and activities that showcase the country’s rich heritage.