Most Syrian holidays and festivities are related to religion. The dates of Muslim festivals vary from year to year, since the Islamic calendar is based on lunar calendar. There are only 354 days in the lunar year, so each year holidays fall 11 days earlier than they did the previous year.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this time Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This is a time for reflection on spiritual matters. It also shows devotion to Allah and Mohammed, builds self-discipline and encourages compassion for those who are less fortunate. Every evening during Ramadan families come together for the evening meal (iftar).

Eid al-Fitr is the “breaking of the fast” at the end of Ramadan. People eat special foods, including sweets, and many people stay up all night. Muslims visit family members and most people wear new clothes. Children receive gifts of money from their relatives. There are rides for children in the streets and fireworks at night. The celebration is officially only three days, but if it falls in the middle of the week, shops and schools may stay closed for the entire week.

Eid al-Adha lasts four days and is celebrated in almost the same way as Eid al-Fitr. It comes at the end of the traditional season of pilgrimage to Mecca and celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God. All businesses close for this celebration.

  Did you know?
Martyrs’ Day commemorates the fight against Ottoman domination. On May 6, 1916, the Ottomans killed Syrian patriots who were fighting for independence.
Muharram is the beginning of the first month in the Hijara (lunar) calendar and is the Muslim New Year. This day commemorates the day on which Mohammed and his followers left Medina for Mecca. A number of festivals are held throughout the year. The Palmyra Festival is held in the desert and features singing and dancing as well as camel and horse races. In Latakia, a peace festival is held during the month of August. Each September, an international folk festival is held in Busra. The festival continues every night for three weeks and attracts international folk dance and music groups. 

Christian Syrians celebrate Christmas and the Catholic or Orthodox Easter. There are community celebrations for these holidays. Although a few decorations appear in store windows around Christmas time, Christmas lights are still uncommon in Syria.

January 1  New Year's Day
March 8 Revolution Day
April 17 Evacuation Day
May 1 Labour Day
May 6  Martyrs' Day
October 6 Anniversary of 1973 War
December 25 Christmas Day