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Why Why Why?

Why do Jordanians use newspapers when setting a table?

I’ve been looking at a lot of pictures of food on the Jordanian blogspehere , home cooked food, and almost ALWAYS they are using a newspaper on the table instead of a table cloth.

My Mom uses one too, OMG this is tooooooooo funny.

Since I have been out of Jordan for so long I kinda notice these odd behaviours more.

I guess it’s good recycling and entertaining to read while eating, but we were forbidden from using the obituary page when setting the table, not sure if it was because of the word of God or so not to disrespect the dead.

 So why? Do you condone this habit? Do you think it’s healthy?


27 Responses

  1. LOL, you know I tend to notice these types of weird habits too. I think the whole newspaper thing is just so cleanup is easier, but I really don’t have any evidence to support this. I do remember as kids, when we had big 3azayem with lots of people, we never got to sit at the table because only the grown-ups had that privilege, so we’d spread newspaper on the floor and sit and eat there. An odd trend really when I think back to it.

  2. Ya khti i7na sha3ib 6afran ma ma3na 7ag sharshaf 6awleh.
    and as you said, it is entertaining. especially in Ramadan my family would put out food right after Athan el 3asr.

  3. newpapers on the table? I’m familiar with newspapers on the ground when we’re eating on the floor but I’ve never noticed them on the table!

  4. Hmmm!! 3adi, i can’t see why not 🙂
    people do that all the time, unless there is 3azoomeh then table cloth is a must..

  5. It is like Dana said, to clean up easier. It is also a sort of ego problem, basically the household lady would not be bothered to clean the table cloth after each meal simply because someone dripped sauce.

    Also, in the US, typically simple table cloths are used. In the Middle East table cloths are unusually and exquisitely handcrafted and woven into beautiful designs, so they’re mostly there for decoration or when the Queen comes over.

  6. There’s really nothing like newsprint hands after a nice meal. 🙂

  7. frankly speaking at home we never did. i think when people have wooden tables they do that, so that they don’t keep using water on it, it might go bad. using a table cloth will mean you have to wash it after every use specially if you have kids.

    the answer? get a …. don’t know what’s it called in english, (tawla r5am) don’t matter how many times you wipe it with soap and water.

  8. i really think its not healthy … newspapers has a high percentage of Led in them and are seriously dangerous … we dont use them at home we use plastic sheets but i used them ALOT at dorms 🙂 but i would never touch them or put bread or spoons on it … paranoid ha ?

  9. hey thats our way of introducing literature into the house hold, and make reading materialize accessible to everyone

    After all its keeps the table conversation going just look at the print on my palm that says “now we have 1115 candidates running”

    how much of conversation inspiration can you get out of pretty prints !

  10. Do you know that like %40 of people who decided to call a tourist agency to book for a local trip in Jordan are those who read the ads while having their meal over the newspaper?

    bit weird but it’s happening.

  11. Very healthy … the evidence happened just a week ago … what makes the OLD newspaper a distinct table cloth is that it absorbs oil coming out of food highlighting scattered pieces of news and letting an idiot at work knows that Gordon Brown is now the British prime minister!

  12. Well there is another option, the see-through waxy textured covering some restaurants use to protect their tablecloth. Let’s call it the table-condom because I don’t know what its supposed to be called !

  13. With all due respect to all people who do that, if you put a newspaper on your eating table, not only that it looks ugly and is uncivilized, it’s really unhealthy. I thought only construction workers at workshops do that. Poverty is not an issue here, a table cover is not that expensive, it’s just that we don’t care about details or looks, anything goes!

  14. Well, besides being so unhealthy to use, I personally hate the manzar of newspapers used as table clothing! btnesad nafsi 3an el akel then! 😦
    as my mom and grandmom say: el 3ain btakoul kaman.. there are those disposal table clothing which one can use once and never worry about cleaning the table afterwards..and there are those plastic simple ones too; which are easy to clean by a wet spong…

    I think people who use newspapers do it as a habit (that’s how they grew up to see their families doing) plus the lack of awareness about how dangerous and healthy this habit is!
    It also drives my crazy when seeing people putting the hot fresh breads on newspapers!!

    Dunno if I’m exaggerating here, but the way I grew up seeing how my grandmom have a special towel to keep the hot breads on till it gets cold, and how she have a special scissors (used only for the bread)
    to cut the Arabic bread into similar quarters..all this made me care about such small details..:)

  15. “they are using a newspaper on the table instead of a table cloth”…
    Why are you surprised? Can newspapers be used in other ways?? 🙂

  16. Yugi,

    i think the best “other use” for newspapers is cleaning the glass, windows and mirrors. ONLY…lol

  17. lol Mais, i agree, newspaper is ONLY to clean glass and windows!

    7aki, i believe its unhealthy, i mean when ur reading the paper (or playing crosswords lol) and u touch the ink-ish part u will get ink on ur fingers, imagine putting bread or cutlery on it..

    and yes, it looks horrid! lol

  18. i have been here for 3months now and i have not seen anyone use newspapers on tables….i guess hubby’s relatives are the weird ones here…:)

  19. Dana: Yeah it is for easy cleanup 🙂 . In our family when there is a big 3azoomeh nobody sits at the table and people just eaither sttand or sit on the couches.

    Mab3oos: tafar and lack of water so we don’t have to waste it washing the sharshaf, but man, there are vinyl ones, why not use that?
    And HAHAHAHA at put out food right after Athan el 3asr….ta7sheeeeeeeeeesh. With my family we always were late cos my mom used to work.

    Asoom: But you are mostly in the states so you don’t see it that often I guess.

    Mai: Man my taita, 3azoomeh or not she gets out the newspaper . lol. But mom stopped that and when we had a 3azoomeh at our house we would put a sharshaf.

    KJ: LOL @ when the queen coems over, so true!

    Dave: you can’t beat that!

    Wonders: I think we should start an awareness campaign 🙂 .

    Isam: well you are right, it’s very unhealthy, I bet you they would find obscene amount of lead in my bloodstream leftover from my childhood, note to self :buy mom a vinyl table cloth as a gift:


    Jad: wallah? Wow, that is fascinating wallah! I think newspapers should take advantage of this 3anjad, put adds geared to families using them as a table cloth.

    Ozz: HAHAHAHAHA. Ta7sheeeeeeeeesh.

    Hani: lol @ table condom, yeah I think we should start a table condom awareness campaign, maybe put a table condom in every newspaper issue? LOL .

    IHA: No no firas everybody does it, but not in Abduon :p .

    OA: yeah it is fugly, but you know what, the ugliness of it becomes transparent with time, you don’t notice it anymore. But I agree with you, it is bad.


    OA2: LOL LOL that is soooo right, they are sooo good for cleaning glass.

    VA: it is horrid indeed.

    Sam: See no no, Jordanians and Pali’s from Kwait and the gulf don’t do it, it’s just locals who lived in Jordan all their lives. I believe gulf Palestinians actually look down upon our unhealthy unattractive habits, lol .

  20. LOOOOOL..u know, i never really thought bout it that much, everyone does it! my mom has always had clear durable plastic coverings on her tables, to protect the expensive and very delicate tablecloths, and we used to use disposable table cloths on top of those too… bs practically everyone i knw in JO used to use newspapers
    everyone is right tho, its SUCH an unhealthy habit!

  21. I used it to clean my windows sometimes in Jordan, works better than anything else plus that they are very cheap and there is no use of saving them after you read them. 😛

  22. Loool so true!

    First of all cleaning table cloth or the mshama3 is just horrible.

    Second, most people find it waste of money to buy sthg they’re gonna throw in the garbage anyway. So newspapers are already going to the trash, economically this works better 😀

    Have u ever seen us buy plastic garbage bags? We always use the tiny ones til we have around ten hanging around by the end of the day 😛

  23. Tinker: IT is a terrible habit, I wonder if my mom is doing it still, imagine my phone conversation with her, ” mom are you using jarayed?” she will think I lost it, LOL.

    Nizar: lol, well in Canada we recycle them and I think in Jordan using them as table covers is a form of recycling 😀 .

    Elijah: Isn’t it gross? if you don’t dry it properly it just smells terrible, I think place mats personally is the way to go 😀 .
    and HAHAHAHA about the garbage bags, ta7sheeesh, OK so I buy garbage bags here but I still store those small bags, I have no clues why, HAHAHAHHA. It’s a habit sarat

  24. Hay 7aki Fadi,
    First Time to bump into your blog! interesting entry!
    But let me assure you that us Egyptians also put a newspaper instead of a table’s cloth,

    I read the papers all the time when having lunch!

    Your not alone 😉

  25. قبل شوي فطرنا بالدوام و كان فيه جريدة على الطاولة 🙂

  26. I think Jordians (at least 7aki’s mom is) are leaders when it comes to reuse and recycle.
    Al Gore would be proud!

  27. gjoe: they do too???? And my Indian Friend told me they do it in India too 😀 .
    Welcome to the blog

    Na3ouri: lazim no7afeth 3ala il3adat wal taqaleed , lol .

    Bob: Reuse and recycle is a Jordanian hobby

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