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Ramadan, the ninth month of the Hijri calendar (a lunar calendar), is considered the holiest month in the Islamic faith. Through stringent fasting, discipline, introspection, and prayer, Muslims elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to Allah, express their gratitude, and seek his forgiveness.
It is believed that during this month Allah revealed the holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. As a way of honouring this auspicious period of time, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, any form of violence, anger, and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun. Reading the Quran and making a charitable donation (Zakat-al-Fitr) are also encouraged.
So, as we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, calendar, and guide to spending Ramadan 2021 in Tunisia.
Ramadan dates and calendar 2021
The beginning of Ramadan is subject to the sighting of the moon and hence, there is some degree of uncertainty involved. However, it can be estimated by Muslim scholars and authorities by observing the appearance and cycle of the moon.
In 2021, Ramadan is expected to start from Monday, April 12, and will last until Wednesday, May 12. The month-long festivities will culminate with Eid-Al-Fitr. The exact date of Eid depends on the new moon, so it is better to confirm with your local mosque.
Ramadan in Tunisia
Tunisian Muslims observe the practices of self-restraint and self-discipline during the month of Ramadan. It is common to go on with the day-to-day work and rest during the daytime.
Once the sun sets, however, people retire to their homes for the iftar and the evening prayers. Typically, Tunisians break their fast with a sip of water and three dates and say “Saha Chribtek” to each other, meaning ‘may it be for your health’.
Iftar in Tunisia is the time to gorge on lip-smacking dishes, ranging from preparations of couscous, Ojja, Shorba, and dates, to continental savories including lasagna, pizza, and cordon bleu.
In the days leading up to the holy month, family members come together to make traditional Tunisian sweets like Yoyo, a mini donut, and Samsa, a triangle-shaped sweet filled with nuts/almonds and honey, quite similar to Turkish and Greek Baklava. Though the recipes differ from region to region and household to household, the zeal and love which go into making them remain the same everywhere.
Some things to keep in mind
In spite of being a Muslim nation, Tunisia has no explicit laws that prohibit eating, drinking, or smoking in public during Ramadan. However, to avoid any hassle with the police for ‘public indecency’, it is best to abstain from doing any of this in public places. If you aren’t observing the fast, make sure you eat or drink privately in your home, out of sight of any Muslim.
It is also advisable to dress modestly during Ramadan. Swimsuits and other summer outfits are fine and acceptable when in the hotel or by the pool, but when going shopping or visiting an attraction, please opt for modest and unassuming clothes.