Ramadan is not just the month of fasting!

by Youssef Kanjou

Many non-Muslims and those who have never visited Muslim countries consider Ramadan only as a month of worship. However, reality shows that it is more. It also determines other aspects of life, such as everyday routines, social as well as economic life; especially before the war in Syria.

It is well known that during Ramadan people do not eat during the day, but the food is still very varied this month. This is because popular markets offer specialties that are only available in Ramadan. This is because the dishes are prepared for the end of the day, i.e. breaking the fast, whether at home or in restaurants. It is common to cook in large quantities and in many ways. There is also a strong focus on drinks and sweets, which are increasingly in demand and are enjoyed after breaking the fast. Since numerous kinds of sweets are prepared and bought for Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast at the end of Ramadan, is called Zuckerfest (Sugar Festival) in Germany!

Ramadan is considered a particularly important month in economic terms, as most businesses depend on sales in this month in which their income increases. It is estimated that the shops’ sales increase to more than 300% and they are open almost 24 hours. This is especially true for clothing stores that sell clothes of all kinds, whether for children, men or women, because most families buy new clothes during Ramadan. In addition, a large part of the family budget is spent on gifts that are only for children. Due to the increase in business this month, most of the specialty shops and production companies are working two times more than usual to meet the demand until the last day of Ramadan.

TV series that are broadcast during Ramadan are part of everyday life. In recent years, they have become a common activity of the families. Usually the series vary between social, historical and political topics. There is close competition between production companies in different Arab countries and between private and public television stations.

Thus, in 2019, despite the tragic state of war, 21 Syrian television series were produced inside Syria and an additional 6 outside, all of them broadcasted during Ramadan.  In addition, there are numerous other entertainment programs especially for this month.  This may be due to the fact that Muslims can watch series during Ramadan more than in any other month, whether they are shown at night or during the day. This is because people stay at home longer than usual, especially as they have the opportunity to stay up very late at night and get up late in the day.

On Ramadan days, Syrians usually go to bed late and in the morning, they go to work later than usual and the working hours are shorter during this month as well. Uncommon is the heavy traffic before breaking the fast, as everyone wants to be home for dinner in time. At the same time, everyone wants to work until the last minute and then go home.  This leads to a big traffic chaos – in addition to the heavy rush in the food shops.

Ramadan is also considered an especially social month, when neighbors exchange some dishes and invite each other. The Iftar, which is the breaking of the fast, is usually done in large gatherings with relatives. But group prayers in mosques also increase during this time, especially at night when men, women and children of different ages participate together. This is an annual opportunity to strengthen friendships and meet new people. Moreover, a great opportunity for mothers to find the right bride for their sons.

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Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian, 16.05.2020

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