Ramadan in Saudi Arabia Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. In Islam we follow the “Moon months” meaning that month of Ramadan is in a different Gregorian month every year. Sometimes it can be in the winter and sometimes in the summer. In Ramadan all Muslims fast from sunrise to sun set. This means no eating and nor drinking not even water. Ramadan is consider a time for self-discipline, meditation and spiritual renewal. We mainly have two meals in Ramadan. The first meal is called Suhor ” before sun rise”, and Iftar which means “break-fast” it’s at sunset.
This is the main meal of the day where all the members of the family gather in the dining room and eat together. We start with dates and sips of water, and eat the rest of the meal. The housewives usually prepare the meal (Iftar). It is a large feast, usually starting out with salads, appetizers and a main meal. Though fasting means eating and drinking in moderation, however, we eat until we get full. There are a lot of “Iftar” tents setup during Ramadan in every neighborhood they near the mosques.
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Food is served during the sunset for poor families. Families from the neighborhood participate in helping prepare food for the tents. On the other hand some families share some of their meals with the tent. Laborers, workers, travelers, poor or who ever wants can drop by any tent and have a fresh hot free meal. People become very gracious, generous, and kind during this month. Young people usually volunteer to distribute snacks at traffic lights during the sunset for people who are late reaching their homes.
They usually postpone their Iftar and leave their families to distribute the food at traffic lights. Neighbors, families, and friends invite each other to have dinner together. Housewives usually exchange dishes during this month, so we have three or four dishes from our neighbors. In Islam it isn’t mandatory for children, elderly, and the sickly to fast. People who are traveling, or pregnant women shall not fast either. Children are sometimes encouraged to fast two to five hours according to their age.
This is so they will be used to fasting when they are older. In Saudi Arabia working hours are slightly changed during Ramadan. Usually it is shortened one hour so instead of going to school or work from 7 to 4 it will be from 9 am to 3:00 pm. The reason for that is that most people stay up late in Ramadan. The purpose of Ramadan is to teach patience and gratitude to people. You gain patience from fasting because you have to be able to handle hunger and thirst. Fasting helps people show gratitude towards God for all the food that we are blessed with.