Ramadan is the longest-lasting and biggest holiday that Egypt celebrates, and also likely the one that has the most impact on tourists visiting during this time.
Ramadan 2024 in Egypt is from the evening of Tuesday March 12th to the evening of Friday April 12th.
Read on to find out more about what Ramadan is, traditions during Ramadan, when it is celebrated in 2024 and 2025, and travel tips for visiting Egypt during this special time, including traditional Ramadan dishes you have to try.
- Why Ramadan is Celebrated
- Traditions: How Do People Celebrate Ramadan
- The End of Ramadan: Eid al-Fitr
Why Ramadan is Celebrated
The reason that Ramadan is celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar is because this is the month in which the Quran is believed to have been revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by the Holy Spirit a.k.a. the angel Gabriel.
During this month, the Quran was believed to have been sent down to the lowest heaven, being prepared for gradual revelation. Muhammad told his followers that the gates of heaven would be open for this entire month, and the gates of hell closed.
Muslims throughout the world believe that fasting during Ramadan gives everybody the opportunity to experience hunger, bringing the social classes closer together. It is widely believed to bring populations of different social classes closer together, and for people to be more compassionate towards those who are less fortunate than they are.
It is also an opportunity to renew your focus on your faith, and bring its application in your day-to-day life back into focus through self-control, sacrifice and self-discipline.
Traditions: How Do People Celebrate Ramadan
The main tradition that sets Ramadan apart in Egypt and across the Islamic world, is that fasting during Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam. During this month, Muslims fast from sunset to sunrise, meaning they do not eat or drink anything (yes, this includes water) during daylight hours. Instead, a meal is eaten after sunset (which is called iftar), and another just before sunrise (suhoor).
Iftar especially is a big family event, with everyone gathering together to break the fast with a huge feast that often starts with dates, apricots, and water or sweetened milk.
While most of the population fasts, there are some exceptions including Egyptians that are not Muslims, but also young children, the elderly, those who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing women, and travelers to Egypt.
2. Reading the Quran
Other traditions during Ramadan include reading the Quran at least once during this month, because the relationship with God (Allah) is an important part of this holy month. Muslims will also pray five times a day during Ramadan, if not more, in order to focus on their spirituality. If you are in Egypt during this time you will notice that it is a little bit busier at the mosques during Ramadan.
3. Exchanging Gifts
Gifts are also exchanged between families, particularly gifts like colorful wooden trays and leather-bound Qurans, and families are also encouraged to take part in charity, which is a huge part of the Muslim faith but especially so during Ramadan. During Ramadan you'll see a lot of families donating to charities, or helping out their community in any way that is necessary.
4. Traditional Foods
Traditional foods such as Egyptian fattah are also eaten during Ramadan. Fattah is a dish made with bread, rice, tomato sauce, and meat. You will also see fragrant yellow rice, Egyptian meat pies, kofta (meatball/meatloaf), and tamarind compote, frequently believed to be thirst quenching.
Suggested reading: 12 of the Best Egyptian Foods and Dishes You Have to Try
5. Giving Up Bad Habits
Other traditions during Ramadan include giving up bad habits. These can range from gossiping, lying and fighting with family, to giving up smoking during the holy month.
The End of Ramadan: Eid al-Fitr
Eid al-Fitr is the official end of Ramadan, and roughly translates to the festival of breaking the fast. Lasting approximately three days, during this time Egyptians will spend time with their families, going to the mosque for mass prayers, or heading out to public parks and gardens with picnics. This is also one of Egypt's public holidays, with the whole population getting two days off to celebrate.
These are the dates for Eid al-Fitr in the next few years:
- In 2024, Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated from the evening of Thursday April 11th to the evening of Friday April 12th.
- In 2025, Eid al-Fitr will be held between late on Sunday March 30th until the evening of Monday March 31st.
- In 2026, Eid al-Fitr will be held from the evening of Sunday March 22nd to the evening of Monday March 23rd.
Some of the most popular destinations in Cairo for Eid al-Fitr include the Giza Zoo, and the Fustat Garden, the largest man-made park that you can find in Cairo, but you'll see families at all parks throughout the country.
Ramadan Dates 2024, 2025
While the dates for Ramadan are different every year, for the next few years, these are the estimated dates that it will be celebrated on in Egypt:
- Ramadan 2024 will likely begin the evening of Tuesday March 12th and finish the evening of Friday April 12th.
- Ramadan 2025 will likely begin in the evening of Friday February 28th, and end on the evening of Sunday March 30th.
The dates for 2024 and 2025 do coincide with a great time of year to visit Egypt weather-wise, so read on to find out what the differences are in traveling in Egypt during Ramadan, to see whether you would like to travel during this time and experience this unique festival.
Why the Dates for Ramadan Change
Dates for Ramadan are set during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months, or 354 or 355 days in total. It is used to determine many Islamic festivals, and doesn't align exactly with the Gregorian calendar which is why the dates for many Egyptian festivals will appear to be different on the Gregorian calendar every year.
In the Islamic calendar, the month begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted, meaning that the Islamic year is 10 to 11 days shorter than the solar year. This also means that the calendar differs depending on the location.
The timings are usually either linked to the Saudi Arabian official calendar, or to the local moon phases. As this differs across the globe, and sunset and sunrise timings differ too, Muslims in different countries might celebrate Ramadan at different dates and fast for a different period of time.
Visiting Egypt During Ramadan (Travel Tips)
- Because the population of Egypt is fasting during Ramadan, you might find that restaurants are not open during daylight hours. Many restaurants that cater to foreigners especially will stay open throughout the day (especially those in the larger international hotel chains), but it is best to enquire in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Some historic sites might also close earlier to allow staff working there to rest as they are fasting, so you should check opening times in advance. In general attractions will shut ahead of sunset to allow people to travel home to participate in breaking the fast at iftar.
- Traveling with a tour guide can help you navigate these situations, as they will know where is open and where to take you, and will be able to make sure you understand all the traditions so as to get closer to Egyptian culture.
- During Ramadan, you'll be able to see the beautifully decorated streets and homes, with fanoos, Ramadan lanterns, everywhere. We recommend checking out the Cairo historic city center during this time as it is a beautiful sight.
- Visiting Egypt during Ramadan also means that you are out and about during the most quiet times, as most people will be back at their homes by sunset to eat with their family and to do their prayers.
- Foreigners (non-Muslims) are not required to fast, but it is expected that you show respect by not consuming food or drink in public where the fasting population might be able to see. Do bear this in mind.
Some popular Egypt tour itineraries for inspiration:
- 8-Day Egypt Essence with Nile Cruise Tour
- 10-Day Egypt Tour with Red Sea and Nile Cruise
- 18-Day Egypt, Israel, and Jordan Tour
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