We live in the West, and it takes work to create that special holiday feeling for Ramadan and the Eids. There aren’t any special commercials, new storefront displays, special aisles at the supermarket for decorations, nothing. So many converts to Islam say how they miss the “Christmas feeling.” The anticipation that comes before, how it is around every corner for a month ahead of time, and the buzz from everyone around the community.
I’m still working on finding the magic touch to create that special feeling for our family, but each year it gets more and more exciting, and closer to that “Christmas feeling” I had when I was a kid. Here’s just a couple things we’ve done to create that buzz in our family:
Talk about it – a lot
Get books from the library, if they have them (plus, it keeps the books in circulation if they are checked out! Bonus!), tell stories about previous Ramadans, talk about plans for this coming Ramadan, and just in general make sure that your family hears about it often. I haven’t found many movies or documentaries about Ramadan, but keep checking because new media items are made fairly often. American Ramadan is a documentary I came across, but have not watched it myself yet.
Create a schedule
My first Ramadan, I had an hour by hour schedule of what I’d be doing on any given day, plus I had a checklist (see below) for beneficial activities I should do each day. Now since I have two young kids, and I’ve learned a tight schedule doesn’t work very well for me, I have more of a general to-do list for myself, and a flow for the day, in sha Allah. The main thing I schedule in now are iftars that are out of the home. It’s become tradition for us to go to iftar at a local masjid each Saturday, and to attend a fundraising iftar for our favorite Islamic non-profit organization. This year we also have a masjid fundraiser, and an interfaith iftar where local church communities are welcomed to the masjid.
Make a meal plan
The idea behind making a meal plan is so that food does not become the focus of the day. You have the plan set up, you go grocery shopping for nearly everything before Ramadan starts, and then it’s no big deal to decide on food while you are in the middle of the blessed month. I make the meal plan with Care Bear, and it is something we enjoy doing together. She gets practice in making meal plans, finding a balance of foods throughout the week (I aim for 2 chicken, 2 beef, 2 vegetarian, and 1 seafood recipe each week), and she just likes knowing what’s ahead. “Go with the flow” is a phrase she hates, haha!
Post a goal checklist
Ramadan is all about improving yourself, and I would argue that goal making is absolutely necessary when trying to make improvements. My favorite checklist is the Ramadhan-action-checklist. I believe it originally came from Productive Muslims’s website, though I don’t remember for certain since it’s been so long since I acquired it. It’s up to you whether you want to post one for each person in a public place or each person keeps their own copy. Post it in your home ahead of time to build the desire to start checking things off and improving yourself. Unless you’re going to keep them for some reason, I suggest putting them in a sleeve protector or laminating them so you can just wipe them off each week and not use extra paper.
Put up lights, make lanterns (or buy some and put them up), make or buy banners, whatever you can think of! Make your home look like a place where special things are happening! The little ones will be happy to make crafts and see them put up as decoration for everyone to see. The big kids will enjoy putting things up and making their little siblings feel special for their contributions. Make decorating a family endeavor!
What do you do to create anticipation for Ramadan with your family?