The lantern has become a symbol of Ramadan, much like Christmas tree lights, but we rarely think about why it has become a symbol. The nickname we give the lanterns, al fanoos, comes from the Egyptians who started the tradition and brought it to the Gulf when they migrated here. The handcrafted lantern, which is made of metal with a small door to put a candle inside, itself came into being at the end of the 19th century. As you can imagine, our ancestors didn't have light at night, so they would use the lantern to illuminate the children's play area and to light the way for the muttawa.
In times past in Egypt, when Ramadan came, the children would go from house to house asking for sweets, accompanied by the musharati singing folk songs such as "Wa, hawy". The imam would also go from house to house with the lantern in hand to let people know Ramadan had begun: "Welcome Ramadan, the month of the holy Quran."