Muslim festivals are celebrated according to the lunar calendar, rather than the solar calendar used in Canada. The new moon determines the beginning of each month. A lunar month is the time between two successive new moons. The lunar year is shorter than the solar year by eleven days. Therefore, over the years, the holy days and the months shift gradually from one season to another.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is Ramadan, a period when Muslims fast during the day in commemoration of God's revelation to Mohammed. During this month, devout Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking during the daylight hours. Children, pregnant women and the sick do not have to follow such a strict regime, but they usually eat less than their normal diet.

At the end of Ramadan, families celebrate Eid Al-Seghir. Men go to the mosque in the morning to offer their prayers. After solemn prayers, families gather for a feast to celebrate the occasion. Everyone wears new clothes, and parents and relatives give presents and money to children. It is also customary to give alms to the poor. Eid Al-Seghir is a public holiday, and most families celebrate for at least two days.

Eid Al-Kebir is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijja, the last month of the year. This feast commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his own son as a mark of his faith and devotion to God. The heads of families sacrifice a sheep in accordance with the Muslim religion and share the food with family, relatives, friends and the poor.

   Did you know?

Historical Readjustment Day on June 19 commemorates the day in 1965 when Colonel Houari Boumedienne came to power. Boumedienne remained as leader of the country until his death in 1978. Boumedienne is remembered for his programs to broaden access to education, medical care and other services for all Algerians.

Local festivals and celebrations are known as moussems. For example, Moussem Taghit, at the end of October, celebrates the harvest of the dates. (Taghit is an oasis in western Algeria.) In the spring, there is a cherry moussem in Tlemcen and a tomato moussem in Adrar.

January 1

New Year’s Day

May 1

Labour Day

June 19

Historical Readjustment Day

July 5

Independence Day

November 1

Anniversary of the Revolution