The Islamic calender also has 12 months like the Gregorian, however whereas the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar (i.e. based on the earth’s orbit of the sun) the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This means that the calendar does not correspond directly to the seasons in the same way that the western calendar does, although it is of either the same length per year or one day less so it is fairly similar. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is a considered the holiest of months in Islam as it was during this month that Qu’ran was revealed to Muhammed, therefore the month is a time of special observance for Muslims as they fast as it is seen as a way to burn away sins. The fast includes refraining from eating or drinking whilst the sun is in the sky, not smoking and forgoing sexual activity during daylight hours. This means that during the day it can seem bizarre when observing cafés in Marrakech and only seeing tourists inside them, however Ramadan also means that during the evenings once the sun goes down the city takes on an almost party like atmosphere as people rejoice in finally being able to get some food and drink. It also means that for an hour between 7-8pm virtually everything is shut as families return to their homes in anticipation of breaking the fast, this making it quite hard on occasion to find anyone to ask for directions or a shop where one can buy water during that time period. However it does mean that when people return from breaking their fast they are generally in an exceptionally cheery mood, lending the city a very pleasant atmosphere.
This picture is of a meal made by our very own staff members at our Riad Cinnamon in anticipation of breaking their fast. This is in many ways a typical meal for someone living in Marrakech and about to enjoy finally breaking their fast at the end of a long day, as the fast starts at 4am and normally finishes around 7:30. The observers of the fast know that they can begin to eat when the muhaddin starts the evening call to prayer. All these things lend a magical air to Marrakech during Ramadan and there is no better time of year to visit this city in order to enjoy this wonderful time of year. Our Riads are wonderfully placed within Marrakech’s historic medina allowing you to take full advantage of all the city has to offer. Book a room today so you too can share in this wonderful experience.
The first day of Ramadan is anticipated around the 19th of July 2012. This is an extremely important month in the Moslem calendar when practicing Moslems do not eat or drink during the hours of daylight and offer more prayer than usual.
The main tourist attractions in Marrakech remain open during Ramadan with some slight adjustments to opening hours. The famous Souks offering a fantastic variety of merchandise to tourists also remain open and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants which are also open throughout the day catering for non muslims. After dark the streets are especially lively with a buzz that continues into the small hours.
In our Marrakech Riad hotels we ask that guests respect the time around 7.15 pm when the staff are breaking their fast. The people of Marrakech are tolerant and welcoming but it is courteous for visitors be sensitive to the importance of Ramadan. We would suggest not drinking or eating conspicuously in the the street, women should also consider dressing modestly in public avoiding low cut tops and very short skirts. There is plenty of opportunity to sunbathe on the private roof terrace of your Riad Hotel!