I’ve been thinking more about how to celebrate the month of Ramadan during a pandemic. It’s time for me to decide which traditions to keep and what might need to be different this year.
Ramadan is about so much more than just fasting (sawm). It’s about family, cultivating healthy habits, being grateful, forgiving, doing good deeds, giving charity, and being spiritually mindful. Living in a non-Muslim country, I feel an added sense of responsibility to make it special for my children through our traditions.
How Do We Usually Celebrate Ramadan?
We normally tour different places of worship to pray a special night prayer called Taraweeh which only takes place during Ramadan. There are also galas and fundraisers. Interfaith relations events bring together members of different faiths. We run into friends and extended family during community iftars (the meal that breaks your fast after sunset). My kids donate to toy drives and offer help with gift-wrapping. We shop at holiday bazaars. Our food is extra special, our desserts are plentiful, and we sit drinking tea in the company of others. We worship at all hours, and under the twinkling lights of our lanterns. Our home is filled with the aroma of exotic bakhoor (incense). On Eid morning, we go to a prayer service in new, holiday outfits and have a big brunch with family. We exchange gifts and then for a few weekends following Eid, we attend celebrations.
Adapting Our Ramadan This Year with 18 Ideas
In contrast to what we usually do during Ramadan, I accepted a quiet Ramadan at home with the family last year under more strict Covid regulations. But a year later, I want to be more adaptable with our holiday; for my kids. I don’t want to be so “all or nothing.” There have to be ways that we can still enjoy Ramadan during the pandemic! So I’ve come up with a list of 18 Ramadan ideas that I’m hoping will feel closer to a sense of “normal.”
- Virtual Taraweeh! – Most mosques already broadcast prayers either live or pre-recorded. It’s a great way for my younger kids to participate when bedtime is usually an issue.
- Magazine Subscriptions: there are several great Muslim magazines. It also makes a great gift idea! I’m loving our new subscription to myDeen Magazine.
- Sponsor an Iftar: We’ve enjoyed generous community iftars in the past so now is our chance to give back!
- Online Classes: There are great online Ramadan-based learning opportunities for all ages. Maybe we didn’t have time for this before but we do now.
- Family Khutbah (sermon): Again, there are lots of these hosted online this month but wouldn’t it be a great idea to allow each member of the family to rotate taking charge of leading at least one khutbah? It would be so beneficial in so many ways.
- Busy Bins: This is a favorite in our family! Cleverly called “Ramadan bins” – but they do keep the kids busy! Perfect for fasting parents! Examples of items included would be: art materials, time-consuming craft or project, a Muslim-based book, printed Ramadan daily journal, subha (prayer beads), and miswak.
- Decorate: We have a bin of dedicated decorations. The older kids love to stay up late for a few days before Ramadan helping me make the house look festive. They also make some of their own decorations, thanks to Pinterest and Youtube. I long ago surrendered the need for perfectly placed decorations to a shared sense of pride that my kids feel when it’s all done. It also keeps things feeling fresh!
- Host a Virtual Book Club for Kids: This helps other families we know learn more about Ramadan while my kids socialize online.
- Visit Mosques Online: If we can’t go to mosques, we can bring them to us! We can also explore new mosques we’ve never seen.
- Make Cards: Snail Mail is the perfect way for my kids to express themselves creatively, spread Ramadan happiness, and surprise someone.
- Distance Secret Gift Exchange: In the past, my family has gotten together to do secret gift exchanges. They are so fun!! This time, we can try a gift exchange among all the cousins of my kids using a random name drawing and sending the presents in the mail.
- Extended Family Dinner Rotation: To keep gatherings smaller, we will host one or two families to our home each week during the month.
- Sadaqah (charity) Box: Each Ramadan, we do “30 Days of Sadaqah” in which each of us donates an item in good condition for every single day of Ramadan. We donate it the day after Eid.
- Construct a Play Masjid (mosque): This is gaining in popularity!! It’s another way we’ve brought a sense of worship into our home and it was a project that we all did together. We didn’t want to ever take it down!
- Enjoy the Spring: We take a big break from our schedule during the month of Ramadan. This month is not “life as usual” for us. We intend to be out in nature to enjoy the sights and smells of the season.
- Noor Kids Digital Ramadan Camp: I cannot express how much my kids love participating in this! It has really become something our whole family looks forward to every night. Also, check out their awesome book subscription and Eid gift ideas!
- Ramadan Nightly Family Kahoot: My family has a Friday night tradition of putting the little kids to sleep and sneaking in a game of Islamic knowledge with other families online. It’s short and sweet but interactive, entertaining, and very educational. My kids nearly flipped when I told them that it’s going to be every single night for the next month!
- Read More Quran: I’m finishing with this point because this is the main reason for Ramadan in the first place. My kids will practice those virtual Arabic lessons! It’s the best challenge of all and it increases their confidence! I’ll be enjoying a translated version. 🙂