Ramadan falls early this year. What can you expect during Ramadan in Jordan? Every year, this Islamic fasting period shifts a bit ahead of time. The exact dates are only known a day before it starts. Astrologers check the moon and decide if the fasting period starts that day or the day after. For 2020 the Ramadan will most likely fall on the 23rd of April.
What is Ramadan?
Every year, Islamic people fast for a full month. This means that from sunrise to sunset they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and having inappropriate thoughts. Before the sun comes up, they eat a meal called suhur. When the sun goes down, they break the fast and eat meals – this is called iftar. The exact time changes throughout the Ramadan, click here to check the actual times by day.
Just before the Ramadan starts, locals will be going around the country themselves. This means that the days before Ramadan, the hotels might increase their prices depending on the locations. Sometimes, you might even come across fasting people on a holiday. This means restaurants and other food establishments might have a special iftar menu for dinner.
When Ramadan ends, there’s the Sugarfeast or Eid al Fitr. This feast can be compared with our Western Christmas. During this holiday all family members go and visit each other. Some might bring presents, money or candy to their nieces or nephews, brother and sisters. They indulge in all sorts of sweets and sugary pastries to celebrate. Some people will also just skip these holidays and go out on a trip themselves. This means that at certain locations in Jordan, particularly in Aqaba, the hotels might be charging exceptional rates during this period of time. Certainly, something to keep in mind while you travel during Ramadan in Jordan.
Exceptions to the rules
Some people are excluded from fasting during the Ramadan. Young children and people who have medical conditions such as diabetes, pregnant or menstruating women are normally exempted from fasting. In addition, people who travel more than 80kms a day are also normally exempted. If they are able to, then they can catch up on these fasting days any time of the year before the next Ramadan starts.
How does this affect your travels during Ramadan in Jordan?
What can and can’t you do during your holiday during the Ramadan in Jordan? Here’s a quick guide to limited opening hours, proper dress-codes and Ramadan Ethics.
Opening times of restaurants
Bigger and busy hotels will have their restaurants open, but some locally-oriented hotels might not. Most of the restaurants that are not connected to hotels will be closed. Some guides and other locals might be a little cranky at times (especially at the beginning of Ramadan!). Please keep in mind that they haven’t had anything all day, and are on a schedule where they sleep less than normal. In case you’re going off the beaten track or when you’re not sure, please inform at the reception of your hotel where to get food or if you can order a lunch-box for the day to come.
Eating in front of fasting people
Most of the people in Jordan will say, “Go ahead, my fasting is something between me and my god”. But it’s always good to ask if they mind if you get yourself some food or if you want to smoke a cigarette. Drinking some water is not much of a big deal to many. But it is also good to know that even local people who are not fasting will not eat in front of fasting people as respect. Respecting the local culture during Ramadan in Jordan is no harm and not difficult to do.
What to wear during Ramadan in Jordan?
During the fasting month, both men and women should refrain from having intercourse and inappropriate thoughts during the day. In a culture where people aren’t necessarily used to uncovered or in their opinion maybe ‘naked’ people, it’s good to be a bit more considerate of your clothing during Ramadan than during other months of the year. Walking in hotpants, showing off your sixpack or anything that would show more than shoulders or above the knee does not work well with the fasting locals you might come across.
Other things to keep in mind while traveling during Ramadan in Jordan
Where people normally wouldn’t be so conservative, the holy month of Ramadan is a month to get back in touch with their religion. For example, you might see more people praying than they would normally do. Please don’t walk or sit in between the person who prays and the Mecca. Always make sure you don’t interfere in the direction that they pray and pass by on the behind side of the person.
Moreover, some men will not be willing to shake hands with female tourists. Don’t get offended by this, it’s a practice that is not meant to be rude. If you’re not sure whether to shake hands or not, wait for the local person to reach out to you.
Lastly, there’s the breakfast rush that happens just before sunset. This period of the day is where everyone goes home in great hunger and thirst! Be aware of even more crazy driving in the 30 minutes before the sunsets. Plan your day in such a way that you don’t need to travel in this moment of time.
Fun things to do and see during Ramadan in Jordan
In order to not miss out on the local community when it comes alive, it might be worth adjusting your schedule a bit to that of the local people. When you do that, you’ll be able to have a fantastic holiday where you really get to know the lovely locals of Jordan. Did you know that there are non-fasting Muslims but also Jordanian Christians that give out water and dates to the fasting people on the road?
Visit the bakeries
During Ramadan, the bakeries will create a little factory of making sweet pastries right in front of their door, on the streets. Here you can see (and sometimes even taste) Atayef. Freshly baked pancakes that are then folded double, stuffed with nuts, dates, goat cheese or sometimes even Nutella. Another typical Ramadan pastry is Mamoul. A cookie also stuffed with the most delicious aroma’s similar to those in Atayef.
Enjoy the late evenings
After Jordanians have had their ‘breakfast’, they’ll most likely go out on the streets. They are also very keen on decorating their houses with hundreds of string lights! Go with the flow and head out to see how – the during the day sleeping towns – turn into a buzzing and vibrant cities.
Break the fast with a local family
All over Jordan, there are families that are willing to show you how breaking the fast goes. After some water, a cup of tea and most likely a date. Jordanians will most likely first go to pray before eating their ‘real’ breakfast. Some will go to the Mosque, some will just do it at home to be able to eat right after their prayers. The lady of the house is the real star here, she has prepared the whole meal of tonight while fasting herself! When breaking the fast during Ramadan in Jordan, together with a local family you really get insights on the local culture and get the most out of your holidays.
Are you planning to travel during Ramadan in Jordan? Get in touch with us and get an expert’s advice. We know the way, the best hotels and get everything sorted for you within no-time.