Congratulations for shopping!

I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, but I only thought to ask about it yesterday when I went shopping with a friend of mine.  I never understood why, after you buy something here, the cashier always says “Mabrouk!” like you just accomplished something worthy of praise..

So, I asked my friend, “Doesn’t mabrouk mean congratulations?  Why would people tell you “congratulations” after you bought something?  I just don’t get it..?”

“It’s just one of those sayings in Arabic,” my friend said, “a lot like sahtein and na3iman. I suppose we just like to recognize whenever a person eats, gets a hair cut, and goes shopping!”

(For my non Arabic speakers out there, “sahtein” is equivalent to “bon appetit” and “nai3man” is what people say to recognize when another person has just taken a shower or gotten a hair cut..in english, “nai3man” could be translated to “you look refreshed” or “nice hair cut” or “may you be refreshed” Please please please correct me if any of these translations are wrong!)

“Hmm..” I said, “Sahtein and na3iman both roughly translate into sayings we have in English, but congratulations/mabrouk for buying something new?  That’s one I’ll have to get used to.”

Do you ever question some of the Arabic sayings that you use on a day to day basis?

The Arabic language is really so fascinating!

 

Pull and Bear Lebanon

Mabrouk! Enjoy your new purchases!

 

10 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon

10 responses to “Congratulations for shopping!

  1. Alf

    Mabrouk comes from the word barke meaning blessing. So when u get new things, we wish u that ur new belongings be blessed or (mabroukin). Mabrouk for u now u know a new thing about our culture🙂

    • meinlebanon

      What is the proper reply when someone tells you Mabrouk? That is the reply I want to give to you..😀 Thank you for your explanation!

      • Mario

        a simple “thanks/shukran/merci” is the common reply, but if you want to go formal it’s “yberik bi omrak” (“omrik” for females) which literally translates to “and may your life be blessed”.

  2. It’s not that weird. People say congratulations in the US when you a buy a new house or a new car, no?

    • Simon

      well yeah, but buying a car or a house is an accomplishment worthy to be congratulated for (unless ur a millionaire)… but buying trousers isn’t😉

  3. meinlebanon

    Those are huge purchases..!! In that case, yes people may say congrats..although even then, it’s not common practice. We would be more inclined to say, “Nice new ride..sweet ride!..I love your new car, I love your new house! etc etc.. Anyway..in this post..I’m not talking about big purchases..I’m talking about when you buy a shirt, or a pair of shoes..

  4. c

    You know, actually, I always found this bizarre as well, but once I left Lebanon I’d have to bite my tongue not to say ‘congratulations’ any time one of my friends showed up with a new purchase. A few times it slipped out… and I got very odd looks!

  5. f

    whoops… that was me above… wordpress autofilled my alternate commenting details (the one i use when i want somewhat greater anonymity).

  6. Tara

    ‘congratulations’ is an interpretive translation, as Alf replied, the Arabic root for the word is ‘baraka’, which is blessing, so a mabrook is implying a ‘blessed’ purchase (regardless how humble)/ good news/ happy news etc.
    The traditional reply to mabrook is ‘Allah ibaarik feek/ feeki’, literally, ‘May God bless you’.
    Perhaps not anymore or less odd than saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes; and there are a lot of Arabic terms for the latter, but I’ll spare you😉
    ‘sa7tein’ is literally ‘two healths’, and unlike the French Bon apetit, it can be said before, after or/ and during.
    There are so many of these niceties in Arabic, which do not have a direct translation in English. And that’s fine, no?

  7. Mario

    So the word “na3iman” is a conjugated form of “na3im”, which means “bliss” in Arabic. In the old days, the groom used to get a sharp haircut and a clean cut shave before heading out to the wedding. So after all is done and his face is glowing, friends slap the back of the (freshly shaved) neck and yell “na3iman !”, meaning “live in bliss…” The phrase caught on since then and it’s said today even if youre not actually heading out to get married. The common reply is “yin3am 3alek” meaning “may bliss fall on you too”. The same phrase was used by women after they had their bridal shower…thats why it’s still commonly used after one takes a shower.

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