ramadan & islamic holidays

Ramadan & Islamic Holidays

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Ramadan & Islamic Holidays

Morocco Travel Information, Ramadan & Islamic Holidays In Morocco  - 6 Things You Need to Know if You're Visiting Morocco During Ramadan

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan, considered as the most important holiday in Islam, happens on the ninth month of the twelve-month lunar calendar followed in Islam. These lunar months are twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan occurs earlier in each Gregorian year. Each day when the sunsets after the fourth prayer families join together to celebrate their first meal of the day, the Iftar, Moroccan breakfast.


How long do Muslims fast during Ramadan? Are restaurants open during Ramadan and do they serve wine and beer?

Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, your travel agent can recommend how to participate in a Iftar Breakfast with a family as to enable you, as a traveler, to experience Ramadan first hand. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day. The majority of touristic boutique riads, hotels and restaurants that serve Western cuisine remain open during Ramadan. These establishments will serve wine and beer to foreigners yet not to Moroccans. It is against the law in Morocco to serve alcohol to Moroccans during Ramadan.

While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six day fast following Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr).

Are restaurants open during Ramadan and do they serve wine and beer?

Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, your travel agent can recommend how to participate in a Iftar Breakfast with a family as to enable you, as a traveler, to experience Ramadan first hand. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day. The majority of touristic boutique riads, hotels and restaurants that serve Western cuisine remain open during Ramadan. These establishments will serve wine and beer to foreigners yet not to Moroccans. It is against the law in Morocco to serve alcohol to Moroccans during Ramadan.
While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six day fast following Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr).
Since Ramadan is a holiday about learning to become a better person, Muslims prepare foods and buy presents to give to their friends, family and the poor.


Since Ramadan is a holiday about learning to become a better person, Muslims prepare foods and buy presents to give to their friends, family and the poor.Am I expected to observe Ramadan?

During Ramadan, a holy holiday, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan, but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. In its observance, Ramadan parallels the traditional Christian Lent. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden to even drink water. While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six-day fast following Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr).
During the times when you are allowed to eat, it is important to only eat healthy and nutritious things good for your body. The point of Ramadan is to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.
There are a few groups that are exempt from Ramadan, but are expected to make up the days during a later time. These groups include menstruating and postpartum women, pregnant and breast-feeding women, travelers and anyone who feels sick or weak. In addition, children before puberty do not have to fast although many do so to practice for half the day.

What Should I experience if I visit Morocco During Ramadan?

An essential experience not to be missing if you visit Morocco during Ramadan, is to participate in an Iftar, Moroccan breakfast. There are many restaurants that offer an Iftar experience along with entertainment. If you prefer to have a more unique experience, then there is the option to break the fast with a local Moroccan family.
Traditionally the daytime for a Moroccan Woman during Ramadan involves a lengthy preparation of the first meal after a day of fasting. This meal to break-the-fast is called Iftar. A special table setting is prepared, with a variety of Moroccan breads, fruits, dates, milk, juice, harira soup, Moroccan sweets, eggs, tagines, along with tea and coffee. This spread of food depends greatly on the region of Morocco. At the breaking of the fast, everyone in the cities and villages spend their evenings celebrating with food and entertainment.
As a visitor to Morocco you are not required to observe Ramadan. Locals will not anticipate that you will be fasting and therefore be accommodating as possible. Morocco has a long history of coexistence and a former, large Jewish population hence their appreciation and acceptance for travelers from other cultures and religions is deeply respected.

Is Ramadan a good time to Visit Morocco?

Visiting Morocco during Ramadan will offer you the opportunity to experience an event and festivities that happen only one time each year. Ramadan is an important part of Moroccan culture. Ramadan is also a spiritual time for Muslims and exploring the country during this time will allow for an up close experience to learn more about Moroccan rituals and Islamic traditions. The ability to participate in the Iftar break fast and also the surrounding activities is what makes visiting Morocco during Ramadan truly special. At the end of the day’s fast you will hear the announcement of cannons, see thousands of people attending prayer at their local mosque and witness tables of food spread out to feed those who are hungry. Morocco’s markets also feature special Ramadan foods that are prepared during this holiday only. If you are a foodie then Ramadan is the ideal time to visit Morocco given many of the special Ramadan foods are not made at other times of the year.

Islamic Holidays Morocco

Aïd el Kebir – This holiday is the Moroccan equivalent of the New Year in Western Culture. This “grand festival” also known as Aid el Adha takes place 68 days after Aid es Seghir, commemorates the day that when by divine order Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Ismail, when Allah interceded by providing a ram in place of a child. Every household sacrifices a sheep and shares the meat at a family meal. In Berber villages families celebrate by putting on their best clothes and the women adorn themselves in Henna. Each fortified village and family opens their home to other families and children offering almonds and mint tea to others who come to celebrate. Children in villages often go from house to house to wish each family “Umbalid.” (Happy New Year)
Moharem– This is a cultural event which Muslims observe on the first day of Moharem, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophetMoharem made to the city now known as Medina. Recently, many Muslims have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day, though this is not commonly done. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the seasons. 
Mouloud– The Prophets birthday, this holiday is widely observed with a large number of moussems timed to take place in the weeks around it. 
Ashorou – This holiday marks the day when a music festival is held thirty days after Aïd el Kebir when people in cities and villages gather together to play traditional instruments and songs. The streets are filled with music and in villages boatmen come to place candelabras full of flaming candles at the Marabout of Sidi Abdallan ben Hasson. Families traditionally gather together to have special meals and offer zakat or a tenth of their annual income to the poor. Street celebrations, bonfires, and fireworks are other common ways of celebrating. Children take the celebrations to the street during the Achoura Festival. Most of them are waiting in anticipation for the big day of Zem Zem. Sharing a name with a well in Mecca, children are free to spray other children and adults with water. The final component of Achoura Festival is the offering of zakat. 

Mouloud Moussems Morocco

Moussems are held in honor of saints or marabouts. They are local and rural celebrations for most Moroccans, primarily for the Berbers. 

Meknes: Ben Aissa moussem – This is the largest moussem and includes a spectacular fantasia (charge of horses with riders firing guns) held near Place el Hedim in the city of Meknes. For the two festival days each April, white, conical circus like tents are set up in the towns square and a cross between a circus and a medieval style jousting tournament is held. Horses charge in rows with riders firing guns from the saddles, while illusionists, jugglers and glass swallowers perform in the tents. These celebrations spring from a time when the Moussem of Sidi Ben Aissa was a time for the gathering of the Aissoua brotherhood of priests who were renowned for their ability to perform death defying acts while under trances. There is also music, singing and dancing, market souks and a party atmosphere. The main celebrations take place around the tomb of Ben Aissa, the founder of the Aissoua Sufi Brotherhood. Ben Aissa moussem takes place in April each year. 
Salé,Rabat: Wax Candle moussem– This festival centers on a procession of wax candle, large latern-light creations, carried from Bab el Rih to the Grand Mosque on the eve of the Mouloud. The candle holders are followed by a variety of brotherhoods that dance and play music. The Wax Candle moussem takes place in April each year.
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