Change the clocks, again…this time for Ramadan

IMG_1181Here’s the thing about Morocco.  It has two Daylight Savings Times.  The first one is like most other countries have.  The thing is, it is interrupted by a 30-day second daylight savings time.  This second change is due to the biggest holiday on the Muslim Calendar–Ramadan.  During the 30 days of Ramadan, all Muslims are suppose to fast during daylight hours.  That means no water or food between 5:30am and 7:45pm.  I consider this level of fasting to be a bit dangerous and excessive so I will not be partaking.  But there are several cultural changes I will experience in the days ahead.

  1. First and foremost, I must maintain the appearance that I am fasting.  Eating or drinking during daylight hours is considered very inappropriate whether you are Muslim or not.  Imagine not drinking water for 12 hours and seeing a person walk through the street drinking out of his water bottle.  So, for the next thirty day I will be hiding my water bottle and eating my meals inside
  2. Breaking Fast is the new cultural integration.  I have been told that most Peace Corps Volunteers will be invited to break fast with several families over the course of Ramadan.  I’ve already been invited by one man in this town and my tutor back in Sefrou.  I am excited to eat more Moroccan food over the next month.  It’ll be a good replacement for my own meals.
  3. Daylight hours means ghost town.  Since people need to save energy during the daylight hours, many will stay inside or sleep.  Several towns turn into nocturnal villages–with many people staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning and not waking up until noonish.  This will be an interesting experience.  Since it’s 100 degrees or more every day, this is probably a good thing.
  4. A third clock change at the end of Ramadan.  I feel like I’m never going to know what time it is if they switch the clock four times a year.

I am excited and kind of antsy to experience this holiday.  The thing is, Morocco is 99% Muslim.  By comparison, the US is only about 70% Christian.  In Morocco, this is something that everyone in the country does together.  It is a very community-based event.  I’ll keep you updated as I continue collecting the experiences.

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