We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ramadan Kareem!

About a month ago, right before Ramadan started, we had our local friends over for dinner. We thought it might be beneficial to ask them some questions about this month-long holiday we were about to get into. After they told us about the eating all night and fasting all day, he asked if we'd like to "see it."

We weren't exactly sure what he meant, because it was still a week before the holiday started, but we all piled into his taxi anyway and headed for a different part of town. Where they took us was apparently "Ramadan Central." We were only able to get a few pictures before our camera battery died, and the pictures aren't really able to do the scene justice. Basically, you can get the idea by looking at the picture below and imagining 20 of those lined up right beside each other. And that's just on one street. Then we would turn the corner and see 20 more stands just like it on the next street. We were amazed.

What are they selling, you ask? It's a special Ramadan lantern called a "fanoose." They--along with Christmas-style colored lights--are the main form of Ramadan decoration. People hang them from their apartment balconies, in front of their buildings, some even from their rear view mirrors. There's no real religious significance, and no one knows for sure where the tradition came from, but it definitely adds to the festiveness of the holiday. Even the Coke cans have pictures of a fanoose this time of year.

The typical fanoose might be 18 inches tall, made of tin and colored glass. But they come in all sizes, from small plastic key-chain models to 6-foot-tall ones that are too heavy to hang up. And they're made of really cheap materials like recycled tin cans so everybody needs a new one every year. (Job security rules here).

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