Morocco is home to a whole host of exciting religious celebrities, some of which are well worth planning your trip around. Morocco is predominantly Muslim and has some main religious ceremonies that Moroccans treasure and celebrates in different ways in a joyful atmosphere reigned by religion and traditions:
Ramadan is the longest religious ceremony in Islam as it lasts one whole month. The month of Ramadan holds in its folders many sacred events and beliefs as well as practices. It is considered to be the most sacred/holiest month in Islam calendar because of the many sacred events that happen during this time. Ramadan commemorates the Quran first being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The main characteristic of this month is that Muslims fast dawn to dusk. At sunset, Moroccans break their fast with milk, dates and a soup called “Moroccan Harira”.
Sunset coincides with the fourth daily prayer for Muslims. Thus, men go to mosques to pray but women pray at home. In Islam, women do not need to go to mosque to pray (not obligation for women to go to pray in the mosque. Rather, it is more advised to pray at home). In general, more people go to mosque during Ramadan as this month is believed to be the month of redemption and get rid of all sins (Ramadan is the month of forgiveness).
Ramadan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar. The 27th night of the month is a sacred one; Men go to mosque praying whole night, little girls wear traditional gowns and make up just like little brides… It is a very beautiful spectacle and some families organize small ceremonies at home…
During Ramadan, work hours change and people work from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Therefore, if you are visiting Morocco during Ramadan and would like to do some shopping, it is advised to do it after 10am and before 4pm or in the evening after 8pm. As for restaurants, most of them are closed all day and open only after sunset. As a non-Muslim foreigner, it is respectfully not to eat in public while in Morocco during Ramadan as this may be seen as rude. If you are in big Moroccan cities, fast-food eateries are always open.
Eid Al Fitr:
Eid al-Fitr is an important Muslim holiday celebrated for one day at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. It is also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, religious holiday that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. As Ramadan bases on the lunar calendar the date of Eid al-Fitr changes each year. Often referred to as simply Eid, it is not to be confused with the other major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (in which Muslims slaughter sheep sacrifice for Allah). In Morocco, Eid al-Fitr may also be referred to as the small, or lesser, Eid, while Eid al-Adha is the greater Eid.
Eid al-Fitr was originated by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to certain traditions, these festivals were initiated in Medina after the migration of Mohamed from Mecca. Anass, a well-known companion of the Prophet, narrated that, when the Prophet arrived in Medina, he found people celebrating two specific days in which they entertained themselves with recreation and merriment. At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days of festivity instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid al-Fitr and Eid Al Adha.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular prayer generally performed in an open field or large hall. For many Moroccans the day begins quite early as many Muslims head out to their local mosque for a morning Eid sermon and congregational prayers.
Following the prayer, Eid Al-Fitr celebrations are traditionally low-key, family affairs in Morocco. Extended families may gather for festive meals, starting with spreads of food for breakfast and continuing through the main meal of the day; or individual families may choose to eat at home and then visit relatives in the afternoon and evening.
Eid Al Adha:
Eid al-Adha is the most important festivity, holiest days all over Muslim World. Eid al-Adha means “Feast of Sacrifice”, also sometimes referred as “Eid al Kabir”, meaning “The Big Holiday”, due to its religious spiritual importance. Despite, the fiesta commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey ALLAH when he envisioned that he was to sacrifice his son. As he “Abraham” attempted to carry out the sacrifice as an act of faithful submission, God stopped him and commanded that he sacrifices a ram instead. Muslims observe this day by likewise slaughtering an animal (sheep, goat, cow, or camel) according to human Islamic guidelines and then offering much of its meat in charity to poor people…
The same story appears in the Bible and is familiar to Jews and Christians. One key difference is that Muslims believe the son to be sacrificed was Ismail in Quran, but Isaac in Bible…
The date of celebration falls on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhu Hijja. It marks the end date of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam. As the Muslim calendar follows the moon’s cycles “lunar”, the date changes every year and it may vary between countries as well. Thus, the celebration day is announced by ministry of endowment and Islamic affairs.
Eid al-Adha has special prayers which take place at the local mosque; worshipers usually dress in their best clothing for this ceremony. After prayers, it is common to visit friends, family and share meals together. Non-Muslims may also be invited to these celebrations. This is a busy travel time (much like American Thanksgiving), and you can expect congested highways and trains. As well, it’s a joyous time; you will see happy and smiling faces…