7 things you should know about Ramadan in Palestine
As a Christian, I do not observe Ramadan. However, living in a country where the majority are Muslims, Ramadan becomes a part of our lives and a wonderful part of the year. Ramadan is such a fun time, as there are many events and celebrations during this month, and it’s so fun to participate in the “iftar” (breaking of the fast) with friends and colleagues.
These are some things you need to know about Ramadan in Palestine:
1. Work days are shorter:
Whether you observe Ramadan or not, you still get that 1-2 hours off each day. Which means, you work from 9-3 instead of 9-5. Hoorray!
2. Business hours:
During the day if you go to a vibrant street, you’d think there’s a curfew or a strike as most shops are closed, especially the restaurants. And most people try to avoid the heat and the sun so they stay at home. However, by the evening, when everyone had had their “iftar” (breaking of the fast), streets will be full and shops will reopen until after midnight.
3. Fridays are the worst days to travel:
Since many Palestinians get permits to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque, this means that checkpoints are overcrowded, especially on Fridays.
People decorate their homes with crescents, stars and lanterns. And streets are full of colorful lights.
5. Iftar = lots and lots of delicious food:
Iftar, which means (breaking of the fast) happens when the sun sets and after the “athan” (call of prayer) is raised. The iftar is basically a feast, where you start with dates to break your fast, then a bowl of soup, and then a main dish which usually consists of rice and lots and lots of meat!
Even after eating a huge meal, there’s always room for sweets. Ramadan is known for its desserts, and especially “katayef”. Katayef is a pancake like pastery that is stuffed with walnuts and cinnamon or white cheese and served with a sugary syrup on top. Katayef is only made and served in Ramadan, so it’s common for both Muslim and Christian families to have it almost on a daily basis during the month of Ramadan.
7. TV shows:
The best Arab TV shows are usually broadcast during Ramadan, since it’s primetime for many of the TV channels.