During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, a holy month of spiritual reflection, fasting, and sacrifice.
If you're celebrating with kids, here is some Ramadan information to share, along with a few ideas for involving your children in the experience of the holiday.
During Ramadan, people of Islamic faith fast during daylight hours. They usually wake up before sunrise for a small meal and then do not eat again until the sun sets at night. The word "Ramadan" itself comes from the root word of ramdhaa, which means "the intense heat of the sun," according to Muslim Matters.
Islamic law states that children who have not yet reached puberty aren't required to observe fasting. Some families have their children participate in the fast anyway or they find other ways to teach their kids about devotion, generosity, goodwill, and self-control.
After 30 days of sacrifice, Muslims hold a three-day celebration of fast-breaking called Eid al-Fitr. Oftentimes, Muslim kids receive gifts and indulge in treats during that festival.
Whether your family decides to have your children participate in the fast, do semi-fasts or not fast at all, here are some other ways for kids to honor Ramadan:
Read Children's Books About Ramadan
Middle Eastern Cooking Expert, Saad Fayed, recommends five Ramadan books for kids (ages 4-8), including My First Ramadan by Karen Katz and Celebrating Ramadan by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith (for older kids).
Decorate Your Home for Ramadan
Muslim families sometimes decorate their homes with stars and crescent moons during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. You could hang paper versions of these celestial beings around the home, or hang white twinkly lights in your kids' rooms.
Help build excitement for Eid al-Fitr by displaying a countdown to the festival in your home. Each day, the kids could add or cross off a number from the calendar as Ramadan progresses.
Teach Your Child Appropriate Ramadan Greetings
During Ramadan, Muslim faithful greet one other by saying, "Ramadan Mubarak." This greeting, which means "blessed Ramadan," is just one traditional way that people welcome friends and passersby alike during this holy time. Teach your children this and other Ramadan greetings they can use.
Involve Your Children in the Preparations
Ask your kids to help you make the meal each night during Ramadan. Saad Fayed provides these recipes for traditional Ramadan food that you and your children can prepare together.
Make Ramadan Inspired Crafts
Here are some crafts you can make with your kids in honor of Ramadan:
Ramadan coloring pages:
Halfway through Ramadan, Muslim kids often dress up in costumes or traditional clothes and go door to door collecting candy and money from friends and neighbors. The celebration is called Girgian, which means "mixture of things."
Enjoy a Festive and Fun Eid Al-Fitr
Here are some ways to celebrate:
- Paint henna on your kids' hands.
- Give the gifts of clothes, toys or money.
- Exchange handmade cards and presents.
- Decorate your home in a festive way, such as with banners and balloons.
- Host a picnic or backyard barbecue.
- Attend a fireworks celebration or light off small fireworks outside your home, if it's legal in your area.
However your family chooses to celebrate Ramadan, Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair!