Information about Tunisia

Ramadan in Tunisia

Dates of Ramadan - Aid al Fitr - Life in Ramadan



Dates of Ramadan in Tunisia

The months of the islamic calendar depend on the actual observation of the moon by humans. In this regard, it is not possible to pre-determine (calculate) exact dates (see below), they rather will be estimated.

Ramadan in the year 2015 began on the 17th of June at night and ended on the 16th of July. In 2016, the dates are therefore:

Ramadan in Tunisia 2016: 05.06. - 06.07. (each at sunset)
(first fasting day: 06.06.)
(Aid al Fitr celebration: 05.07.)
Fasting days: 29

Each year, the start of Ramadan moves in the western calendar circa 11 days up (earlier), so the estimated Ramadan periods in the following years will be:

2017: ca. 26.05. - 25.06.
2018: ca. 15.05. - 14.06.
2019: ca. 04.05. - 03.06.
 
The exact date of the start (and thus also the end) of Ramadan can not be predicted because it depends on actual moon observation, which can occur up to 2 days prior or after the estimated/expected date. Therefore, the beginning or end of a month can only be determined on the very day before this date.

However, there are more and more countries or groups of believers where (basically against the religious rules) the dates are being pre-determined from astronomic calculations or which simply follow the dates of Saudi-Arabia.
Nevertheless, the official beginning and end of Ramadan will always be formally announced by religious authorities on the day before it starts or ends and is always being considered to be a "surprise".

A "day" in the islamic calendar starts at sunset and consists of the full night plus the following day (while a day in the western calendar starts at midnight). This explains, why the first fasting day is, in the western calendar, the calendar DAY after the beginning of Ramadan, and the Aid Al Fitr celebration takes place on the calendar DAY after the end of Ramadan.

A "month" in the islamic calendar starts at sunset of the day, when the first crescent after a new moon can be observed.


Life in Ramadan in Tunisia

Ramadan (in some countries spelled Ramathan) is the traditional muslim fasting/abstention period (ie. no drinking, eating, smoking or bodily interactions during the day).

Eben though not all Muslims in Tunisia strictly follow the Ramadan (behind closed doors, not in public!), the vast majority of them and especially older people, still do.

In Ramadan it is to be expected that shops, restaurants, banks, etc., either are completely closed or open just for a few hours per day, either in the morning or at night. State offices in Tunisia are open only from morning to noon.
The number of employees is lower and the efforts and quality of service is low to very low - which is no wonder really, when someone is deprived of sleep and energy.

In the tourist zones of Tunisia, the restaurants and cafes, namely in the tourist hotels, are usually open during the day.
  • Some Tunisians might express displeasure when they observe tourists drinking, eating or smoking in the public during Ramadan.
  • The products in the supermarkets are more expensive than during the rest of the year, because traditionally, in the evening (sunset), in almost every family, a particularly sumptuous dinner is being prepared.
  • Since the fasting begins again in the early morning (sunrise), it is, at night and early in the morning, on the streets and in the Tunisian houses, a lot livelier than usual.
With the proliferation of islamic religious groups after the uprising of 2011 and the lifting of the ban on Islamic parties in Tunisia, there have been since, especially away from the tourist areas, disturbances caused by members of these groups to individuals or business owners who did not live up to the rules of Ramadan.
  • In some cities, and to some extent even in tourist areas, shops and restaurants have been closed during the day, even for tourists.
  • Various cultural festivals during Ramadan have been disrupted by religious groups so that the artists could not perform. The justification for this was that musical performances should not be held and certain topics should not be discussed/adressed during Ramadan.
  • In all aircrafts of the Tunisian company Tunisair, which are often chartered by European airlines, the consumption of alcohol during Ramadan is banned.
The Aid Al Fitr holiday follows the end of the month of Ramadan. Almost all shops and all schools will be closed, it is a day when the tunisian familes celebrate. Even on the 2 days following Aid Al Fitr, some shops can still be closed.


A well-intentioned advice: Only those should visit Tunisia during the Ramadan month, who are willing to accept the restrictions and special atmosphere of Ramadan!
 



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