As the Blessed Month comes to an end, one of our members shares her experience of Ramadan in Jordan:
The blessed Month of Ramadan is long awaited around the globe, and in Jordan you begin to feel the change in atmosphere a whole month prior, but more obviously so from the 15th of Sha^ban. The whole country begins to prepare for the days to come with much excitement and enthusiasm. Public spaces are decorated with lanterns and lights, leaving me in awe. Huge displays are hung from the ceilings of malls and shop windows are decorated with “Ramadan Karim”. There are sales all around! The hustle and bustle of Muslims in the supermarkets making the most of the Ramadan deals (how many juice cartons can you get for 10 dinars?) and searching the souqs for traditional Jordanian Ramadan decorations: candle holders designed to look like minarets and small decorative trays or tins to fill with dates; an assortment of nuts and dried fruits that will sit on display in the home; and tea lights of all colours and lengths to adorn your windows and balconies.
During the first night of Ramadan, many families enjoy a meal at a restaurant to acknowledge the start of the blessed Month, followed by the men, and even some women, entering the mosques to perform the tarawih prayer. People begin to wish family, friends and strangers a happy Ramadan: the young man who fills your car with petrol, the sales person at the till, the security guard that checks your boot, the men that keep the streets clean, “Ramadan Karim!”, followed by kind words and supplications from the responder. Is this not what we all wish to experience?
The day of Ramadan leaves the streets quieter than usual, restaurants and cafés closed, children continue with school until the Summer break and work continues as normal, with some alterations for certain professions. Two hours before it is time to break fast, streets fill with cars and people, rushing to get food from restaurants that have now opened, and freshly baked khubz/bread, from bakeries as well as freshly baked atayef/ qatayif, that is made on a belt mechanism that is setup outside. Atayef/qatayif are like pancakes stuffed with cheese or nuts and served as the sweet dish after the main iftar meal, a traditional Ramadan dish in the Arab world. Freshly pressed juice is sold from almost every corner and even from car boots. The oranges are cut and then pressed in front of you and kept on ice. Dates are squeezed and made into juices, a delicacy you won’t get outside of Ramadan.
The iftar meal isn’t usually a feast, and many Jordanians enjoy home cooked meals followed by the Maghrib prayer after sunset. The men usually break their fasts at the mosques, followed by the prayer and then join their families. It is tradition to eat mansaf, the Jordanian dish of rice and meat, for the first iftar meal. The meal is followed by gahwe/qahwah and halawiyat, coffee and sweets, either in the home or out. Many take this as an opportunity to spend time with their families outside, so the streets begin to fill again. Dessert shops that sell traditional Arab sweets become places to gather. Layers of pastry, folded or stuffed with cheese or cream and drenched in syrup water and nuts, are served on paper plates while a gentleman in his fez hat and huge decorative coffee flask goes around giving out coffee to enjoy with the sweet dish. Fathers juggle the plates and coffee to their cars where their families await, while others stand around and socialise.The mosques begin to fill again for the time of ^Isha’, the late-night prayer, followed in some places by circles of knowledge, where it is common to see young children accompanying their parents, and in other places followed immediately by the tarawih prayer. Men and women then return home late into the early hours of the morning to prepare for the following day’s fast.