During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, a holy month of spiritual reflection and sacrifice.
If you're celebrating Ramadan with kids, here is some information and ideas for involving your children in the holiday.
During Ramadan, people of Islamic faith fast during daylight hours. They usually wake up before sunrise for a small meal and then do not eat again until the sun sets at night. The word "Ramadan" itself means "parched thirst" and "sun-baked ground," according to About.com's Guide to Islam.
Islamic law states that children who have not yet reached puberty aren't required to observe fasting. Some families have their children participate in the fast anyway or they find other ways to teach their kids about devotion, generosity, goodwill and self-control.
After 30 days of sacrifice, Muslims hold a three-day celebration of fast-breaking called Eid al-Fitr. Oftentimes, Muslim kids receive gifts and indulge in treats during that festival.
Ramadan with Kids
Whether your family decides to have your children fast, do abbreviated fasts or not fast at all, here are some other ways to get kids involved in the holiday:
1. Read books about Ramadan.
About.com's Guide to Middle Eastern Cooking recommends five Ramadan books for kids ages 4 to 8, including My First Ramadan by Karen Katz (compare prices) and Celebrating Ramadan by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith (compare prices) for older kids.
2. Decorate Your Home for Ramadan.
Muslim families sometimes decorate their homes with stars and crescent moons during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. You could hang white twinkly lights in your kids' rooms.
Help build excitement for Eid al-Fitr by displaying a countdown to the festival in your home. Each day, the kids could add or cross of a number from the calendar as Ramadan progresses.
If you're crafty, how about making a Ramadan banner, like this Ramadan banner from the blog Handmade Beginnings.
3. Teach your child appropriate Ramadan greetings.
About.com's Guide to Islam offers four Ramadan greetings in Arabic that kids can learn.
4. Involve your children in preparations.
Ask your kids to help you make the meal each night during Ramadan. About.com's Guide to Middle Eastern Cooking provides recipes for traditional Ramadan food and the Guide to Cooking for Kids offers some suggested rules for kids in the kitchen.
5. Do Ramadan crafts.
Here are some links to Ramadan crafts you can make with your kids:
- Gold and silver stars and moons from About.com's Guide to Family Crafts.
- High-ceiling mosaics that replicate the geometric shapes of a mosque.
- Encourage your children to save money for the needy during the month of Ramadan and make this food bank mobile as a reminder. At the end of Ramadan, use the money to buy food for the needy.
- Prayer rug magnets.
- Ramadan wall chart.
- Muslim yarn dolls.
- Tessellations cards, which can then be given to friends and family during Eid.
- 3-D date tree, since dates are often eaten during Ramadan.
- Here's a long list of kids' Ramadan activities from ourseeds.tripod.com.
If you're looking for Ramadan coloring pages, check out these links:
- An Islamic pattern from Crayola.
- A simple mosque drawing from Crayola.
- Boy on a prayer rug from Crayola.
- Several Islamic images from Islamic playground.com.
6. Celebrate Girgian.
Halfway through Ramadan, Muslim kids often dress up in costumes or traditional clothes and go door to door collecting candy and money from friends and neighbors. The celebration is called Girgian, which means "mixture of things."
7. Finally, enjoy a festive and fun Eid al-Fitr.
Here are some ways to celebrate:
- Paint henna on your kids' hands.
- Give gifts of clothes, toys or money.
- Exchange handmade cards and presents.
- Decorate your home in a festive way, such as with banners and balloons.
- Host a picnic or backyard barbecue.
- Attend a fireworks celebration or light off small fireworks outside your home, if it's legal in your area.
However your family chooses to celebrate Ramadan, Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair!