|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 Abrahams willingness
to sacrifice his son to God. All businesses close for this celebration.
|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.