Facts About Ramadan in Egypt
Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar months in the Islamic calendar. The Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars of the Islamic religion. It also commemorates the month when the Quran, the holy book of Islam, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Ramadan is a time for increased prayer, charity, and community involvement, fostering a sense of unity among Muslims. It concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a joyous holiday marked by feasting and acts of kindness toward others. Still, the primary and obligatory practice of the month is fasting from dawn to dusk, with exceptions for the elderly, the sick, children, pregnant women, and more.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs from sunrise (Suhoor) to sunset (Iftar) until the last day of Ramadan. The meals during Ramadan are two times a day. From fasting until dawn, you can eat and drink. This practice purifies the soul, develops self-discipline, and draws closer to God.
Ramadan traditions in Egypt are different, and this month has magical aspects in the Egyptian streets; You can discover them below.
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Ramadan Traditions and Customs in Egypt :
Muslims, regardless of the country they are in, will always celebrate the month of Ramadan, which means fasting, prayers, and charity. But in Egypt, the atmosphere of the country is different; the holy month fills the streets with many lights and colors. Know the Facts about Ramadan in Egypt :
Traditional Ramadan Food and Drinks in Egypt
During the holy month of Ramadan in Egypt, the culinary landscape transforms into a delightful fusion of tradition and flavor. The Iftar, the evening meal to break the fast, is a cherished moment. Families gather to enjoy a spread that typically begins with dates, refreshing jallab or amar el-din glasses, and traditional Ramadan drinks that boost energy. These drinks are complemented by qamar al-din, a smooth apricot juice, and refreshing hibiscus tea known as karkadeh.
As the call to prayer echoes through the streets, the Iftar table is adorned with various delectable dishes. Savory options like stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, and samosas delight the palate. Egyptians also indulge in sweet desserts, such as baklava and konafa, dripping with syrup and sprinkled with nuts.
For Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, Egyptians opt for lighter fare, often starting with foul medames, a nutritious fava bean stew, yogurt, and fresh fruits. In Egypt, Ramadan is a time of fasting and reflection and a celebration of rich culinary traditions that unite families and communities.
Spirit of Ramadan in Egypt
Well before Ramadan begins, Fanous stores appear; on the main streets or even in alleys, you will find lanterns made especially for this month. Fanous are available in various sizes and materials. This tradition emerged many years ago; Legend says that when the Fatimid caliph Muezz El Din entered Cairo for the first time, the population took to the streets with lit lanterns to welcome him. Fanous has become a brand in Egypt, and every year, the lanterns light up houses and streets and bring joy to children.
2. Decoration and Music Of Ramadan in Egypt
In addition to Fanous Ramadan, the streets gain color and shine with fabrics, flags, lights, panels, and other decorative materials made with Khayamiyah prints – embroidery with geometric and Islamic patterns in different colors, sizes, and shapes. Families decorate their homes, and companies also decorate their windows. Anywhere, you can’t miss the memorable Ramadan songs, which make anyone get into the spirit of the celebration.
3-Ma’edat Al Rahman – Charity Iftar
Charity is one of the pillars of Ramadan; walking through the streets of Cairo, you will see several tents set up with several tables, forming a banquet for the poor to break their fast. Another form of charity during the month is the donation of basic food baskets to needy families.
4. Madfaa el Iftar
In the past, cannons were used to announce the breaking of the fast, a tradition that began as just a cannon test that coincidentally took place in the holy month. This makes an essential mark on Ramadan in Egypt. To this day, the cannon has become a symbol of this month. There are replicas in stores and animations on television, and there is still an active cannon in the Citadel of Saladin that announces Iftar (breakfast).
Very common in the more traditional neighborhoods, the Mesaharati is a gentleman who goes around the streets, waking the residents to have their last meal before dawn, the Sohur. Mesaharati always uses a drum to announce Sohur. This ancient custom continues today, at least in the more traditional areas.
6- The Breaking of the Fast
During Ramadan, people invite each other to break the fast together at home or in a restaurant. Meals, including famous local dishes, sweets, and juices, are always plentiful. Breaking the fast is usually done by eating dates and drinking water.
Television programming during Ramadan features a range of special series on various channels. But contrary to what you might imagine, the series does not portray religious themes. After Iftar, families sit together to watch the famous series, drink tea and eat sweets.
8-Last Days in Ramadan – Preparation for Eid El Fitr
In the last days of Ramadan, families start preparing for the arrival of Eid (the first day after Ramadan ends ). Supermarkets start promoting and advertising cleaning products because traditionally, before Eid, Egyptian women do a great deal of cleaning to receive their relatives. In the days leading up to Eid, in more traditional homes, women get together to produce Kahk and other biscuits. At the same time, pastry shops make several boxes with various biscuits typical of this occasion. Another Eid tradition is giving children new clothes, sweets, and money.
Visit Egypt During Ramadan
Al Azhar has many small shops selling copper, tin, and ceramics. A bustling carpet market and tent producers with appealing designs are also present. Along with silver and gold jewelry, the store sells expensive jewels. In addition to the Al Ghouri Madrassa Mosque and its mausoleum, the oldest university in the world, the Al Azhar Mosque should be visited.
The multifunctional Mamluk-era Wekalet El Ghouri has become a modern entertainment venue. It currently hosts folk art exhibitions and nighttime performances for tourists. Visitors can see the Tannoura spectacular triweekly and enjoy a traditional instrument concert.
The Khan El Khalili Bazaar, a covered marketplace dating back to the 14th century and the largest of its kind, can also be sailed through. Souvenir shops nearby sell papyrus paper, personalized gold and silver cartouches, inlaid boxes, and other souvenirs. The bazaar stays open till dawn throughout Ramadan.
Many ancient monuments can be visited, some just during daytime hours and others, like mosques, 24/7. Cairo has beautiful Abbasid, Fatimid, Mamluk Ayyubid, and Ottoman mosques. These medieval mosques are mostly in Islamic Cairo’s historic area.
Ramadan In Egypt is not just a religious observance; it’s a cultural extravaganza that blends faith, tradition, and community. The spirit of unity, charity, and celebration makes Ramadan in Egypt a genuinely unforgettable experience. As the lanterns light up the streets and the call to prayer fills the air, Egypt comes alive in an enchanting and profoundly spiritual way.
FAQs About Visiting Egypt During Ramadan
1. What Changes to Tourists During Ramadan in Egypt?
During Ramadan in Egypt, tourists can expect a unique cultural experience marked by specific changes in daily life. The most noticeable difference is the altered schedule, with many businesses, restaurants, and attractions adjusting their hours to accommodate the fasting period. Some tourist attractions will close an hour earlier than usual during Ramadan, but this won’t affect your travel plans much.
Tourists should be mindful of this when planning their activities and dining options. Dressing modestly and respecting local customs is also essential, especially when visiting religious sites or attending events. While some restaurants may still serve food during the day in tourist areas, it’s considered to dine in designated areas rather than in public. Overall, embracing the spirit of Ramadan in Egypt can provide a deeper understanding of the local culture and a more enriching travel experience.
2. Is it worth traveling to egypt during Ramadan?
Traveling to Egypt during Ramadan can be a rewarding and culturally immersive experience for those open to embracing this holy month’s unique aspects. While it does come with some adjustments, such as altered business hours and limited dining options during the day, witnessing the spiritual devotion and festive atmosphere can be truly captivating. You’ll have the opportunity to partake in traditional iftar meals and experience the warmth of Egyptian hospitality. Additionally, the reduced crowds at popular tourist sites can enhance your exploration, allowing for a more serene and personal encounter with Egypt’s historical treasures. Ultimately, if you respect local customs and are open to Ramadan’s cultural richness, it can be a worthwhile and memorable time to visit Egypt.
3. How many hours of fasting in Egypt during Ramadan?
The fasting hours during Ramadan in Egypt typically span from dawn (Fajr), when the call to prayer is heard, until sunset (Maghrib), when Muslims break their fast with the evening meal called iftar. This means fasting for approximately 14 to 15 hours daily, but the exact duration may vary slightly depending on the time of year and location in Egypt. Muslims in Egypt fast from early morning until the evening, refraining from food, drink, and other physical needs during daylight hours as an act of devotion and self-discipline during this holy month.