The first day of the Islamic year is called the Day of Hejira. This holiday commemorates the occasion in 622 when Mohammed and his companions left Mecca and journeyed to Medina, which became the first Islamic community. Ashura is observed ten days after the Day of Hejira. It commemorates Moses' victory over the Egyptians, when he led the Israelites out of slavery. On this day, Muslims fast and weddings and public entertainment are prohibited.

Milad al-Nabi in the third month of the Islamic year commemorates the birth of the prophet. Prayers and readings honour Mohammed's birth, life and teachings. In the evening, children light firecrackers and families enjoy a special meal together. On Lailat al-Isra, people celebrate Mohammed's night-time journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, Mohammed was taken up to visit heaven.

Two weeks before the beginning of Ramadan is Lailat al-Bahr, the Night of Forgiveness, when Muslims prepare for Ramadan by saying prayers and forgiving one another. During Ramadan, people are forbidden to eat, drink or smoke during the day, but they celebrate the end of the day's fast with special meals. Lailat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, falls during Ramadan. It celebrates the occasion when an angel revealed God's teachings to Mohammed.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. It is a joyful time. People wear new clothes and give money to the poor. Families decorate their homes and enjoy a feast of special foods and sweets. Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, takes place during the period when many Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca. It commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God.

   Did you know?
Muslim holidays are based on the lunar calendar. There are 354 days in a lunar year and each month begins with the new moon. As a result, the holidays do not fall on the same day each year according to the calendar used in Canada.
The most important national public holiday is the Anniversary of the Revolution on September 1. This day marks the overthrow of King Idris by Muammar Qaddafi. The day is celebrated with official speeches and parades. The Day of Mourning on October 26 honours the Libyans killed or exiled by the Italians. December 24 is Independence Day, commemorating Libya's release from Italian colonial rule in 1951.

March 2 Declaration of Jamahiriya
(the People's Authority)
June 11 Evacuation of Foreign Military Bases
August 9 Army Day
September 1 Revolution Day/National Day
October 7 Constitution Day
October 26 Day of Mourning
November 21 Proclamation Day
December 24 Independence Day