Ramadan is in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest month. Most citizens of Morocco partake in the fasting during the holy Month of Ramadan. This year it was from May 15th to June 14th, but it changes each year and depends on the moon phases too.
Basically, Muslims fast between the hours of daylight, from sunrise to sunset each day. This means abstaining from all food, liquids, smoking, sexual contact and impure or bad thoughts during these hours. There is also an increase in prayers and visits to the mosque during this period. It is a time for reflexion and spirituality, re-connecting with your beliefs and religion.
Our observations of Moroccan life during this month is that life slows down, things tend to be left unfinished and arranging things just does not happen. We completely understand this as everybody tends to be tired and hungry, working in the heat without water is just not pleasant. We understand and accept this as part of life here.
Driving also becomes more of a challenge and more accidents seem to happen, especially towards the end of the day – during the last 30 minutes before sunset it is all a bit crazy and speed limits seem to not apply!
Shops and restaurants are generally closed. Mornings do not really start until 10:30 am at the earliest during Ramadan and basically, life is reversed with shops opening late pm and into the evening, with many re-opening after Iftar.
The other observation during this time is the amazing generosity and hospitality of the Moroccan people. We get endless invites to Iftar (breakfast after the long day as the sun vanishes) The welcome we receive and the food prepared is unbelievable and incredibly generous.
Moroccans are a very generous people normally but they up the anti during Ramadan.
This year we were invited to Iftar by many different friends and spent many hours enjoying the food and company – everything is relaxed and enjoyed over several hours, and not a mad rush to finish as we so often do these days.
The meal is typically started with dates and chebakia (a very sweet pastry) to break the fast, then Harira soup and fruit smoothies. Tea is the drink of choice, the very sweet herbal or mint tea is ideal to get the digestive system going. This course is followed by fish or chicken with other vegi-based dishes and potatoes to complete the meal. Afterwards, fruit and sweet biscuits again with constant flowing teas and much chatting and merriment.
One meal we had this year was with our fishermen friend. He lives in a very basic hut on the beach but despite this, he was determined to put on an amazing meal for us. He is about 80 years old (or more) and such a great guy. All the locals bring him gifts and come to him for advice on things – he knows everything about fishing, nature and gardening amongst other things. We had a great evening with him and his friends.
We also spent several evenings at Bagus Surf Camp, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with the owner Mourad and his guests. Mourad is an amazing chef and prepares such great food, so we know it will always be a feast of delicious treats.