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Ramadan begins


Among some groups, and in some parts of the world, Ramadan has already begun; among other groups and in other parts of the world, it's still a day or two off. See Reuters article "Politics, technology can decide timing of Ramadan" and Wikipedia's articles on Ramadan (the religious observances) and Ramadan (the calendar month) for more info about the holiday and the timing.

I mention this partly 'cause I find Ramadan an interesting holiday in general, and partly 'cause I think the impact of modern technology on religion is interesting, and partly to keep reminding myself of the heterogeneity of world cultures, world religions, and Islam itself. (Despite regular mentions of the word "Sunni" and "Shi'ite" in the news, I think it's easy for non-Muslims to fall into the trap of thinking that Islam is one monolithic religion, in which everyone believes the same thing.)

Also partly because I know a lot of Americans think that Ramadan always happens in or around December, that it's a "winter holiday" corresponding to Christmas. In fact, I often get the impression that the greeting "Happy holidays!" (in December) is intended to be faith-neutral, under the supposition that all religions have some sort of holiday around that time of year, when in fact Ramadan overlaps with December (even slightly) in only about a quarter of all years.

So: happy holidays to those who celebrate Ramadan!


And interestingly, it's coinciding with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashannah, which started last night.

Eep! I was thinking about Rosh Hashanah yesterday and earlier today, and I obviously should've talked about it in this entry, but somehow I completely spaced. Thanks much for the reminder, Debby!

The cafeteria at work yesterday served some yummy challah. Good stuff. Also apple slices with honey.

In case there's anyone who doesn't know this, Rosh Hashanah and especially Yom Kippur (a little over a week from now) are traditionally a bigger deal than Hanukkah in Judaism; so if you're inclined to wish people "happy holidays" in December, and if what you mean by that is "happy Christmas and Solstice and Hanukkah (and Ramadan if it happens to be happening in December this year)," then you might want to also wish your Jewish friends happy holidays around now. (And, of course, at the times of other Jewish holidays as well.) (Of course, if by "happy holidays" you usually mean "enjoy your time off work!" then this paragraph doesn't apply to that.)

Although the High Holy Days are usually referred to as "solemn," and "Yamim Noraim" translates to "Days of Awe," so perhaps "happy" isn't really the right way of putting it anyway.

So l'shana tova (a good year) to those who celebrate the High Holy Days!

With my apologies for being so absentminded when I put this entry together.

I'm tempted to post this as a new entry so people on LJ will see it (and to avoid giving the impression that I think Rosh Hashanah is somehow secondary to Ramadan), but I think I'll keep this all in one place for now.

At the risk of being inflammatory, you know, we Jews are 0.22% of the world's population, while Muslims are 21%... Rosh Hashana is secondary to Ramadan.

What's the traditional greeting for Ramadan? For Rosh Hashana, it's "l'shana tovah" (or "happy new year" -- Rosh Hashana is happy, hence all the sweets like apples and honey, for a new year) and for yom kippur it's "have an easy fast" (because yom kippur, not so happy). For all Jewish holidays, if you're in a Yiddishy mood, "good yontev" is always a good bet.

Didn't Rosh Hashana coincide with Ramadan last year as well?

I've seen some Arabic variations of "Ramadan blessings" or "Blessed Ramadan" at moon-sighting websites. But I've no real idea of the proper usage.

Ramadan always makes me remember my dad, who was a convert to Islam. He wanted to fast at Ramadan, but was forbidden to because he had a serious chronic illness. I think he always felt kind of left out of that part.

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