RAMADAN IN EGYPT | WHAT’S IS IT ALL ABOUT? 

What is Ramadan in Egypt like?

If you are travelling to Egypt during Ramadan, you are probably wondering what is it all about. What’s happening during Ramadan in Egypt? What is the point in fasting? Continue reading to find out more about Ramadan in Egypt.


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During Ramadan, everyone is trying their best to be a better version of themselves. Muslims fast 30-days from dawn till sunset, they pray more than usual, do good deeds and make donations, behave themselves and spend more time with their families and friends.

My favourite thing about Ramadan is people spend more time with their family and friends. People gather together to eat, talk and pray. If possible, people travel far to other cities to visit their families. Buildings and homes are decorated with Ramadan lights; kids get their own Ramadan lanterns. The celebration has begun!

What is Ramadan about? Ramadan in a nutshell.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. This year in Egypt, it’s supposed to start on the 6th of May and end on the 5th of June. Dates may vary, depending on the moon position. The Islamic calendar is a lunar centred (not solar-like Gregorian), this is why Ramadan is celebrated every year different times. Ramadan starts 11 days earlier each year, but according to the Islamic Calendar, it starts the same time every year. In 2020 Ramadan starts on the 23rd of April and ends on the 23rd of May. The holy month of Ramadan lasts 29 to 30-days.

Ramadan obligations for Muslims

During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast from dawn till sunset. All healthy adult Muslims are expected to fast. Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or engage with sexual relations during daylight. They should also behave themselves, stay out of the fights, not to think or speak out bad words. People also pray more, read the Quran and do good deeds, like helping the poor ones with donations.

Children, elderly, people who are mentally or physically ill; pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women are not expected to fast. You can break your fast for travelling, but you should cover the days later.

The idea of Ramadan is to clean the body and soul from all the bad things. By fasting, you are more close to poor people who have nothing. It’s also a practice for self-discipline and self-control. 

Ramadan decorations in El Dahar, Hurghada, Egypt. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
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Ramadan decorations in El Dahar, Hurghada, Egypt. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

NEXT: RAMADAN MEALS



Ramadan meals-Iftar & Sohour

The thing I like most about Ramadan is that people sit together to eat and spend time with each other. There are two main Ramadan meals in a day; Iftar and Sohour. Families and groups gather together every night for a meal called Iftar. Iftar is the first meal of the day after fasting and is usually started with dates. After dates and drinking, it’s praying time. After praying it’s time to eat.

First, there are usually some soups, for example, Molokhaya. The main course can include, for example, pasta or rice with some meat (chicken, beef, pigeon) vegetables and salad. One of the traditional Egyptian dishes served on Ramadan is Fattah (rice, bread crumbs and meat, seasoned with a spicy sauce of garlic and vinegar). From the desserts, Konafa is one of the most popular Ramadan desserts.

Desserts like Konafa are served during Ramadan.
Konafa (Kunafa) is a delicious Egyptian dessert served on Ramadan. Image: Wiimedia Commons.

Here is a link to an article about Egyptian Ramadan meal for the ones who like to know more: https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/9/6606/Experience-iftar-at-an-Egyptian-home-in-Ramadan

To read more about the Food in Egypt, click here.

Before the dawn people gather together again, for another meal called Sohour. Sohour is supposed to be a healthy, energising meal that prepares your body for the fasting. Sohour is like Egyptian breakfast; it may include for example; foul medammes (beans), falafel and Egyptian flatbread. Fasting starts when the sun rises and morning prayers begin (Fajr). Sunset prayings are called Maghrib.

After Ramadan: Eid Al-Fitr

After Ramadan is over, people gather together to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr for three days. Eid starts with a prayer called Salat Al Eid. The First Day of the Eid is dedicated to the family. Egyptian families visit and share meals with each other at their homes and restaurants.

The second and third day is for celebrating with the kids; going out to the parks, playing outside and doing all the fun things. Eid Al-Fitr is like a Christmas for Muslim kids. Kids get new clothes and gifts. Traditionally, at the beginning of Ramadan kids receive a Ramadan lantern of their own.

Some Egyptians travel for a holiday to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr. Red Sea holiday destinations are fully booked during Eid Al-Fitr and there are also lots of people on the street celebrating Eid. You hear lots of Eid Mubarak! Which means blessed Eid!

ramadan in egypt
Ramadan Lanterns are used for Ramadan decorations. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

NEXT: HOLIDAY IN EGYPT DURING THE RAMADAN



How does Ramadan effects on tourists visiting in Egypt?

As a tourist in Egypt during Ramadan, you are allowed to drink, eat and act normally. Though locals are celebrating Ramadan, for tourists, everything stays normal. You are not expected to fast or cover your hair.

But you should think twice before wearing a mini-skirt on the streets during Ramadan, especially in Cairo. In Hurghada and other Red Sea resorts, no-one cares, but Cairo and other parts of Egypt are more formal.

In Cairo, there are special Ramadan shows and dinners, but in Hurghada, Ramadan programme is not that significant. There are Ramadan decorations and lights on the streets, shops and supermarkets in Hurghada. You may also see big Ramadan tents outside, where everyone can go eat for free.

Some shops and offices have different (shorter) opening hours for Ramadan. Also, some shops may be closed for eating and praying but will open soon after the iftar meal is over. Some shops and offices are closed during Eid Al-Fitr.

If you like to dance, there are more roam on the dance floors during Ramadan when Egyptians are not allowed to drink alcohol.

Actually, bars and restaurants are not allowed to sell alcohol for Egyptians, even they wanted to drink. If they sell, they may lose their licence. Some restaurants may be busier or closed right after sunset when people eat.  It may also be harder to get a taxi when everyone is busy eating. So, it’s better not to schedule anything important during or close to Iftar or Sohour. Otherwise, you don’t see much difference.

Be openminded and you may experience something new and different during Ramadan in Egypt. Be curious to ask, that’s how you make the best memories!

Ramadan Kareem, see you soon!

-Hanna-

Have you ever been to Egypt during Ramadan? How did you like it? This year we are going to travel to visit a family. I will leave my computer home and try to enjoy the holiday and family time. I’m curious to see how it goes. What else can I do at nights instead of blogging? Let’ see how it goes. Ramadan Kareem!

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