Ramadan 2018: When it starts, how to greet your friend who's celebrating and more

ramadan 2018
Photos: Getty Images

Christmas trees for Ramadan 2018? One Detroit-area mom is celebrating the Muslim Holy Month by bending fake Christmas trees into crescent moons in anticipation of the holiday. And, yes, they’re even decorated with lights.

 

“Obviously, Ramadan’s important,” Baydoun Bazzi, the creator of the trees, told the Detroit Free Press. “You gotta pray and fast, and you want to become closer to your creator. But I never as a kid felt like there was any decorations or like a celebration. I wanted something exciting.”

 

If it’s unclear why the tree with lights brings some levity to this holiday it’s probably because you’re wondering, what is Ramadan and why is it celebrated? Here’s what you need to know about the holy holiday, which is an important time for prayer and fasting in the Muslim community.

 

Why is Ramadan celebrated?

Ramadan celebrates the ninth month of the Islamic year through fasting and prayer to commemorate when the Quran was revealed to Mohammad in Muslim tradition.

 

When is Ramadan 2018?

Ramadan 2018 will be here before you know it. Tuesday, May 15 marks the first day of this year’s Muslim Holy Month, with the holiday wrapping up on Thursday, June 14.

When does Ramadan start?

In America, Ramadan 2018 official starts in the evening of Tuesday, May 15.

ramadan 2018 fasting prayer

How long is Ramadan?

As Ramadan celebrates the ninth month of the Islamic year, it’s one month long. In practice that means 30 full days and the evening of Tuesday, May 15 when it begins.

Why do Muslims fast?

Fasting is an important tradition in the Muslim community because it’s supposed to bring believers closer to God and remind them of the suffering of the less fortunate by forcing the faithful to give up some worldly pleasures. In addition to fasting, abstinence from certain substances like caffeine and alcohol are usually a part of it and serve as a sort of purification of the spirit through purification of the body.

Ramadan: How to fast

During Ramadan, the fasting lasts from sunup to sundown daily. But it’s not just eating from which observers abstain — drinking, even water, is included as well. Even a sip of water is considered to be breaking a fast. The same goes for a puff of a cigarette.

ramadan 2018 lanterns

But since fasting is about purifying the mind and body, it’s not just about food. “Muslim scholars say it's not enough to just avoid food and drinks during the day. Ramadan is also an exercise in self-restraint. Muslims are encouraged to avoid gossip and arguments. Sexual intercourse between spouses is also forbidden during the daytime fast,” according to NBC News.

To get through the day with enough energy, Muslims have a pre-dawn meal called “suhoor” that’s typically rich in carbs, though the prefered foods differ from country to country.

What about breaking Ramadan fast?

There are two traditional parts to the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sundown each night. The very first step in breaking the fast traditionally is with water and some dates at sunset. That is followed by sunset prayers, which leads into “iftar,” a large feast that’s typically shared with friends and family.

But it’s also traditional that some people are given exemptions from fasting. The elderly, children, people who are ill and women who are pregnant or nursing can traditionally opt out. This can also include people who are travelling, which NBC News reports can also be applied to athletes who are competing.

Is there a traditional Ramadan greeting?

Typically the beginning of the holiday is ushered in with the Ramadan greeting, “Ramadan kareem!," meaning “generous Ramadan for you.” But throughout the Muslim Holy Month if you want to greet friends celebrating, you can use the traditional Ramadan greeting used throughout the whole month: “Ramadan Mubarak,” meaning “blessed Ramadan.” You’re essentially wishing for Ramadan to bring them blessings.