Sunday, July 29, 2012


Prior to 2006, the weekend was normally on Thursdays and Fridays, but they switched to having their weekends on Fridays and Saturdays so that they could have one weekend day in common with most of the rest of the world. Probably for business and commerce purposes most likely, I'm thinking.

New Years Day. January 1. Like much of the rest of the world, the atmosphere is that of a huge party. People will gather for parties at hotels or night clubs until the early hours of the morning. Many people gather to watch fireworks, especially on the piers overlooking the waters of the Persian Gulf.

Labour Day. May 1. Labour Day usually has a parade and honors good workers. Many labor and business leaders will give speeches, and there are workshops aimed towards labor issues, such as unemployment and minimum wage.

National Day. December 16. A day to commemorate Bahrain's independence from Great Britain in 1971. Actually, the day of independence was on August 15, but they use this day to coincide with the coronation of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Most people celebrate the day with family and friends and with fireworks in the evening.

Accession Day. December 17. Accession Day is something new for me. It refers to the day the new monarch takes over from the old one. People will decorate buildings and some put up pictures of the royal family.

Islamic New Year. 1st Muharram. There's usually a ban on alcohol in many places during this time. Many people will follow in a muharram procession with drums throughout the city streets.

Day of Ashura. 9th, 10th Muharram. Ashura is a holiday on the day long considered to be the day when Noah's Ark landed. They also include this as the day the Ka'ba in Mecca was built as well as Abraham's birthday.

Prophet Muhammad's Birthday. 12th Rabiul Awwal. Also coincides with Milad al-Nabi. Even though Sunni and Shia will celebrate the holiday on slightly different days, it's still filled with parades, storytelling, and decorations.

Little Feast. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Shawwal. Celebrates the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Little Feast is celebrated with a lot of food shared with family and friends. Also known as Eid al-Fitr.

Arafat Day. 9th Zulhijjah. Approximately 70 days after the end of Ramadan, this celebration coincides with the 2nd day of the hajj (or pilgrimmage). There are special vendors serving free hot and cold drinks as well as food prepared in large pots.

Feast of the Sacrifice. 10th, 11th, 12th Zulhijjah. Also known as Eid al-Adha, it's a festival surrounding the willingness Abraham made to kill his only son because God/Allah had commanded him to. (He stopped him just before he went through with it.) Also known as The Big Feast, Muslims now will slaughter an animal and keep 1/3 for themselves, give 1/3 to friends or family and donate 1/3 to the poor.

Up next: art and literature

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