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Ramadan Ambiance in Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Ramadan in Morocco and other Islamic countries is an unusual time when in addition to heightened spirituality, a special atmosphere permeates the culture unlike the rest of the year.  This is even more true when the month falls outside of the school year, as most of it does this year, 2010.  Normal schedules are completely turned around during Ramadan, and people enjoy special foods and family celebration.

Red Harira, Moroccan Soup

A typical Ramadan evening in Morocco and other Islamic countries, breakfast or “Laftour” is served after sunset and consists of red or white harira, hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with salt and cumin, a sticky-sweet pastry called shebakkia, dates, freshly-squeezed orange juice, coffee with milk, and often milkshakes made with both avocado and banana.

Shebakkia, a sticky-sweet Ramadan pastry

Sometimes in the evening, some of the more unusual Moroccan specialties are consumed, such as cooked lamb’s feet, sheep’s brains, or even cow’s head.

Sheep's Brains

Most people in Morocco and other Islamic countries go out late in the evening during Ramadan and stay out at night much later than normal.  (This is because the three meals of daytime are eaten at night, and the third meal falls about 4 AM.) The streets can be more crowded at midnight than during the daytime rush hours.  Many stores and restaurants open up in the evening and stay open until after midnight.  Some restaurants stay open until 3 AM.

Inside a Moroccan Supermarket

Because of staying up so late, many housewives will go to bed around 5-6 AM, and get up again around 10-11 AM.  It will be too hot at that time (over 100°F/37°C) to go out shopping, so they will prepare foods for the evening from what is available at home.  Around 3-5 PM, most people will rest or sleep.  After the evening breafast around 7:00 PM, most people rest or sleep another two hours, then get up for the evening.  Many housewives and families will go shopping in the supermarkets between 10PM and Midnight.  Others just go out  because it’s cooler than the daytime, and because everybody else is out.

People who pray have a much more rigorous schedule for getting up, and may need to shower for religious reasons before 10 AM, as well as keeping to rigorous prayer schedules.

Corridor in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

The fast currently starts about 4:30 AM and finishes around 7:00 PM.  So now that most students have not yet started back to school (mid-September in Morocco), most are staying up all night until about 5-6 AM, and sleeping late until 3-4 in the afternoon.  This is not really a recommended practice, as it shortens the hours of fasting, but it is not absolutely forbidden.  Correctly, a person should get up by 11:00 at the latest.  However, even for those who do get up, many of them are resting or sleeping several of those hours, but later in the afternoon.

For those who do have regular working hours, the hours of work are generally considerably shortened.  Schools open 60-90 minutes later than normal (9:30 -10:00 AM), and instead of closing for lunch, work straight through to an earlier closing time (2:30 – 3:00 PM).  Businesses often work 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, or from 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM.

The last ten days of Ramadan are a very special time, because it is when the Koran was revealed.

The Ablution Room in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Some people even go to the mosque and pray all night for all of the last ten nights, since no one is sure of the one actual night during that period when the Koran was revealed.  This practice is called Itiqaf, and is also felt to offer worshipers protection against excessive socializing, sleeping and talking, and turn worshipers’ attention toward Allah.

For more information about Ramadan in Morocco

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