Ramadan in Morocco

This year Ramadan will begin on August 11th 2010, and finish on September 9th, give or take a day. Morocco is a very different place during Ramadan, so here is our advice about making the most of it.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the annual Islamic fast, and it is mandatory for everyone over the age of about 16. No one is allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours. Then at sunset everyone gathers indoors to eat a big feast together. For Muslims it is intended to be a month holy living and earning forgiveness from sins. Most Moroccans will be shocked that you aren’t fasting, so try not to rub it in.

Everyone Is Tired and Angry

Sadly, for foreigners, the main feature of Ramadan is that during the day everyone is cranky and unhelpful. Moroccans even have a special term “MuRamdan” to describe the frequent screaming matches that tend to break out between tired hungry people. Note that this will also apply  to the hotel staff and other tourist service workers. Also, during the hour of fast breaking stay off of the street, because even the police leave to break the fast with their families.

Places to eat and drink during Ramadan

One major inconvenience during Ramadan is finding places to eat or drink. To my knowledge only two places will consistently be open during Ramadan. The first is MacDonalds, (there are two in Tangier, one by the Hotel Dawliz, and the other along the beach). It will be packed with foreigners and sheepish-looking Moroccans. The only cafe I know that serves during Ramadan is the main cafe of The Petit Soco. Please take great care that no one sees you eating or drinking outside! Locals were actually arrested for eating in public last year!

Change your schedule

One of the best ways to enjoy Ramadan is to stay up as late as possible every night, during Ramadan people are shopping, drinking coffee and spending time with family until 2 or 3am! Then sleep in as long as you like the next day. One of the most fun things you could do during a Ramadan vacation would be to eat the fast-breaking meal with a Moroccan Family; complete with Harira soup, fresh dates, and other traditional foods. If you can’t do that, many local restaurants also offer special fast breaking meals that can be a fun cultural experience.

Eid Al Sghir

Perhaps the most fun part of Ramadan is it’s last day, Eid al-Sghir. It is a big festival day, with a big family meal , and the fun tradition of having your picture taken on an Arabian stallion or a gleaming throne. Families dress up their kids in wedding clothes and take pictures. Why not join in?

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