BY CHRISTINE CLARRIDGE
Regardless of your faith, you may well know that Ramadan is a holy period for Muslims that is marked by reflection and fasting during the day.
The 30-day holiday is based on the lunar calendar and officially began in the United States this year on Saturday but Muslims usually begin their practice of observation at sunset the night before.
Here are some things you might not know:
1. The correct greeting to those observing the holiday is “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which wishes them a blessed or generous Ramadan.
2. Practicing adult Muslims do not consume food or water during the daylight hours of Ramadan, but just as importantly they also try to refrain from spiritually negative practices such as gossiping, lying, swearing and arguing.
3. While they may never ask, your Muslim friends will most likely appreciate it if you don’t tempt them by deliberately eating, drinking or smoking in front of them and if you show patience for any hunger-induced crankiness.
4. Although the Quran does not specify the exact date, Laylatul Qadr (“Night of Power”) – the holiest night of the year – celebrates the night Allah reportedly revealed some of the holy book to the Prophet Muhammad. It is generally recognized as occurring some time on an odd-numbered day in the last 10 days of the observed holiday.
5. While some people report experiencing endorphin highs from daily fasts, others binge once night falls and gain weight.
6. In Arabic countries, Ramadan is prime-time TV binge-watching season and many stations work to produce 30-episode series (an episode for each night) for their audience.
7. The most traditional way to break the fast is to eat dates – which are among humankind’s earliest cultivated crops – either alone or in more elaborate dishes.