Tag Archives: Palestine

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. 

Palestinian Tradition When Moving Into A House 

Background: The informant is one of my good friends. They have been born and raised in America, but one of their parents is an immigrant from Palestine, while another has roots in Iraq. 

Main Content:

ME: So do you mind telling me about what your family does when you move into a new house. 

DS: So yeah, during the construction of, or when we just move into an existing house, my mom’s side of the family always has this tradition of putting a bible and a cross within the walls of the house. Usually that Bible or Cross is blessed by a priest on my mom’s side, and she is Greek Orthodox, or it is blessed once it is in the wall. In all of the houses that we have ever lived in we have had both the cross and the Bible in the walls. In the one that we are currently in, we have it right by the front door. 

ME: That’s really interesting, do you know where your mom learned this from, or why she started doing it? 

DS: She got it from her home village of Ramallah, which is in Palestine, right outside of Jerusalem. 

ME: Do you know if this is something commonly done in Ramallah or Palestine, or is it just something that your mom’s family does? 

DS: So I know that my mom’s whole family does it, and I know my grandparent’s house has it. I assume that it is a tradition because the village that my grandma and grandpa came from was very small and closely knit, and we basically know everyone who has come over from there, that like live near us and around us. I’m pretty sure that they do it too, but I definitely know that my mom’s family does it for sure. 

ME: Do you know what purpose it is supposed to serve? Is it to protect the family and house or is more to keep away bad stuff? Or is it more general, kinda like good luck?

DS: I think it is mostly good luck, but I think a big part of it, my mom is always going on about, you know, having Jesus watch us and making sure that we are okay. So I think that it is another way to keep the house as a holy place. So like we always kinda have the eyes of the Lord looking at us and keeping us safe. Its kind of a safety thing, but its less about keeping bad things out, and more oriented towards keeping the eyes of the Lord on us and making sure that we are okay. 


This interview took place at my house. 


I think that this tradition is really interesting because after doing a little bit of research I could not find any other examples of people doing this. I always assumed that it was commonplace, because I grew up with a lot of Palestinians, and I remember seeing a Bible in the framing of the walls during the construction of the informant’s current home. So, this might be a tradition that is truly unique, and it is entirely possible that Christians from Ramallah, or those who have emigrated from there, are the originators of this tradition. I also think that this is a way for them to make their home in Michigan seem culturally similar to the home that their mother grew up in, in Ramallah.