The mouled is a religious feast which celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad born in 570 AD. The Shiites are the first to have introduced this feast, and it was only centuries after that it became widespread.
In Tunisia, the mouled is synonymous with “assida”, one kind of cream whose ingredients differ from one region to another. The assida of Z’gougou (Pinus halepensis, commonly known as the Aleppo Pine seeds) is the most popular, it is prepared mainly in the coastal cities. The one made from flour and honey is specific to northern and southern cities. Some families opt for an assida of hazelnut or pistachio.
The mouled is also an opportunity to exchange visits between families and neighbors. Every woman needs to send a bowl of assida to her stepmother, her mother, other family members and her neighbors. It is also a good opportunity to celebrate the betrothals (engagement parties) and circumcision celebrations.
In the Medina of Tunis, men gather at 7 a.m. in front of the Zaitouna mosque to sing “Al Hamzia”, a poem of 456 verses, written by the poet Charafeddine Al Boussiri, and dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad.