Palestinian Ramadan and Eid

Informant Details

  • Gender: Male
  • Occupation: Student
  • Nationality: Palestinian-American

Folklore Genre: Religious Observations and Holidays

  1. Text

The informant explained the customs and traditions of Ramadan, a religious observance in the Islamic faith. Ramadan occurs during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Fasting means that no food, water, or other substances are consumed during this time period. No food molecules or water molecules should pass through your lips. Women who are menstruating, young children, elderly people, and very ill people are not allowed to fast because it may be harmful to them. In lieu of fasting, these people can donate, which is called kaffara. Fasting is meant to remind you of those who are less fortunate and don’t have access to food and water. It also is meant to cleanse your mind. In the evenings, the fast is broken during a meal called Iftar. Typically, this begins by eating a date, which is called tumrah. Iftar is typically a large feast shared by family and friends. Then, before sunrise, a meal called suhoor is eaten to prepare for the day of fasting. Ramadan also involves additional praying. During other months, observant Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca. For Ramadan, after the last prayer at the mosque, they do another prayer called taraweeh, which consists of either 8 or 20 rak’ats. Additionally, during each day of Ramadan, one book of the Quran is read. By the end of Ramadan, the entire Quran has been read. Ramadan lasts for one month. At the end of Ramadan, there is a holiday called Eid. Eid is a celebration that marks the end of the fasting period. It begins with a prayer in the morning. Then, the day is filled with feasts and visiting family and friends. Typically, older people will give money to younger people as well.

2. Context

The informant participates in these traditions and celebrations in the context of his Muslim faith. He learned these practices during his upbringing by his Palestinian family and his religious community.

3. Analysis

The practice of fasting over the period of a month represents a cultural value of discipline and self-control. Since fasting is meant to put people in the shoes of the less fortunate, it also represents values of empathy and gratitude. There is also a cultural value of promoting health and wellness within the community because vulnerable populations are not allowed to fast. Furthermore, the emphasis on charity reflects the cultural values of generosity and supporting other people. Finally, the community-wide prayers and feasts shared among families and friends suggest a cultural value of community and belonging.