I have mentioned Ramadan impacting my schedule multiple times and thought that I would share a bit about it. I knew little about it before arriving and have learned a crash course in it the past few weeks as it changes the entire dynamics of the culture for a month.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims observe it by fasting for the month. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and is based on a lunar calendar. It moves forward 11 days every year and the fasting lasts from just before sunup to just after sundown. This makes for a long day when it falls in July as it has this year. Muslims take no sustenance, including water during this time. Shortly after sunset, they break their fast and then eat again early morning just before dawn. They also increase prayers during the month and are on their best behavior in terms of not engaging in behavior which is sinful (swearing, arguing.)
Due to not eating during the day and staying up late to eat before dawn, many businesses are closed for most of the day. Restaurants and coffee shops are all closed and many people sleep until about noon. The stores all close about 5:30/6 in preparation for breaking the fast. Restaurants open about 6:45/7. Then stores all re-open at about 10 for all night shopping when people have eaten and have energy. Hence my late night sheet shopping trip!
The month concludes in the holiday of Eid, which is the feast of breaking the fast. Muslims are not allowed to fast on this day and in fact, usually eat a sweet breakfast (something with dates) before the Eid prayer. Due to Eid happening based on a lunar calendar, we are yet to know exactly when it will be. It should be immediately after the 29th day of the month which is tonight but it may be tomorrow night. It starts shortly after sunset on the first sighting of the crescent moon. If the moon can’t be seen (clouds) or some other reason, then it is celebrated the next day. So, I will know soon if I have tomorrow off or the following day.
The city is decorated very elaborately as this is a major holiday. Some of my other posts have shown Eid decorations in the malls. I will repost here. Additionally the streets are lined with lighted decorations, buildings have lights and lights are strung in trees. Very similar to our holiday decorations in the states, with different colorways. The neon purple you see on the trees seems to be a very popular color here. Many of the signs and lights on buildings are done in this.