Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it commemorates the month during which Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. Ramadan is most famous for the practice of fasting. Muslims of able-age (not infants or elderly) fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from drinking water or eating food. While this may seem to be an arbitrarily difficult and inconvenient form of reverence, almost all the Muslims I have spoken with were very excited about the beginning of Ramadan. During this month, Muslims hope to purify themselves of sins by reorienting their lives to God. It is a time when one can truly focus on God, while also learning patience and sacrifice.
Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night in the Muslim calendar, is supposed to have occurred during the last ten days of Ramadan. Muslims believe this is the night when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to Muhammad.
Everyday during Ramadan, the fast is broken at sunset with the Iftar meal. Since Ramadan is a time of charity and giving, many wealthy families host iftar meals for the less fortunate. Also, buildings and homes hang up fanoos, lamps that are unique for the month of Ramadan.
Large Iftar meal
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the holiday Eid al-Fitr, literally the holiday of fast breaking. The common greeting during this time is Eid Mubarak (Blessed Holiday). Muslims will wear new clothes and children usually receive gifts. Because it is a school break as well, many Muslims will go to the beach or visit relatives. For me, I'm going to Jordan. I'll fill you in on that upon my return.