Arab CultureA Guide on Ramadan: Insights, Traditions and Datesby Kitty Ramasamyupdated on May 9, 2022September 27, 2021 by Kitty Ramasamy Ramadan is the holy month in Islam and one of the most important events of the year. It’s celebrated by Muslims around the globe. I’ve compiled a useful guide on Ramadan and the expected dates for Ramadan for the coming years. What is Ramadan? If you’re not a Muslim, you might have heard about Ramadan as the month during which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daytime. Fasting is one of the most important factors during Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month in Islam which is all about spiritualty and a person’s bond with God and family. Besides fasting, many worshippers dedicate more time to family and religious activities such as praying or studying the Qura’an. In many Islamic countries, working hours are shorter which makes fasting much easier than with a busy schedule. Ramadan Dates The dates of Ramadan are based on the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months with 354 days a year. With the Islamic calendar being shorter than the Gregorian calendar (365 days), Islamic holidays such as Ramadan and Eid vary from year to year. YearRamadan DatesRamadan 2022Friday, 1st April 2022 – Saturday, 30th April 2022Ramadan 2023Wednesday, 22nd March 2023 – Thursday, 20th April 2023Ramadan 2024Sunday, 10th March 2024 – Monday, 8th April 2024Ramadan 2025Friday, 28th February 2025 – Saturday, 29th March 2025Ramadan 2026Tuesday, 17th February 2026 – Wednesday, 18th March 2026 A few important notes on the Ramadan dates: The start date and the duration (29-30 days) of Ramadan depends on the crescent moon. Therefore, any dates of Ramadan for the coming years are predictions and may vary.The dates of Ramadan can vary from country to country.Islamic holidays such as Ramadan always begin and end in the evening. Ramadan Traditions Eid is the End of Ramadan Eid al Fitr is a two-day celebration that takes place after the Ramadan ends. Same as for Ramadan, the dates for Eid al Fitr are predictions based on the Islamic lunar calendar. It begins in the evening of the last day of Ramadan. Read more about Eid al Fitr and other Eid celebrations in my article on Eid festivals. Ramadan Greetings Ramadan is a major event for any Muslim. It’s a common tradition to wish someone a happy Ramadan at the beginning of the holy month. There are several Ramadan greetings which are used among family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. Common Arabic Ramadan greetings are: Ramadan Greeting (Latin Script) Ramadan Greeting (Arabic Script) English EquivalentRamadan kareemرمضان كريمGenerous RamadanRamadan mubarakرمضان مباركHappy Ramadan Both ramadan kareem as well as ramadan mubarak are common Ramadan greetings in Arabic which are widely used and understood across the Middle East. Ramadan is More Than Fasting Fasting (refraining from eating and drinking during daylight) is probably the best known Ramadan rule. However, Ramadan isn’t limited to fasting. The purpose of the holy month is to grow spiritually and to get closer to God (Allah) and one’s family. The most important rules during Ramadan are: Fasting from sunrise to sunset (including food and water)No smoking (cigarettes, hookah…) during daylight hoursNot involving in sexual activities during daylight hoursAvoiding arguments and not using swear words Of course, there are a few more rules, but these are the most important ones. Generally spoken, any person (man and woman) who has undergone puberty has to fast. However, there are also exceptions (illness, pregnancy, traveling…). Food during Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which can easily surpass 12 hours, depending on the time of the year. With limited hours to eat (in the late evening till the early morning), the traditional food during Ramadan is different than usually. The meal in the evening (after sunset) is called Iftar. After a long day of fasting, Iftar usually contains a lot of liquids. Fresh juice and a soup (e.g. Shorbat Adas), followed by a nourishing main dish such as rice with grilled meat. Ramadan sweets such as Qatayef are common during the evening hours too. The meal in the early morning (before sunrise) is called Suhoor. During that meal it’s important that you eat food which is filling to bring you throughout the day. Dairy products (e.g. Labneh) and foods rich in protein (e.g. Foul Mesdames) are common. Suhoor is generally much simpler than Iftar. Gift Giving Ramadan gifts are an important practice at the end of the holy month. Traditionally, gifts (mostly money) were given to children. However, it has become common practice among all age groups. These gifts are exchanged between family, friends and neighbors after Ramadan (during Eid). The most popular Ramadan gifts are: Food and sweets (e.g. dates, chocolates)Decoration (e.g. lanterns)ClothingJewelryCosmeticsCandy and other sweets (for children)Toys (for children) Are you considering to travel to an Islamic country, such as Jordan? While it can be a beneficial cultural experience for international travelers, it also brings some restrictions. Make sure to check out my article on visiting an Islamic country during Ramadan.