The day before Ramadan has a different meaning among the Yemeni people, as they await the last day of the month of Shaaban. This is the day on which Muslims greet Ramadan by preparing special banquets full of an assortment of delicious foods and deserts.
Yemenis celebrate this day with families, neighbors and friends, exchanging food and happiness with each other.
What distinguishes this day is the beautiful ritual which allows Yemenis to meet with friends and family. Men and young people gather in houses or mosques to discuss religious topics, community, and family, worshiping and singing “Nashid” to welcome Ramadan.
Moreover, all the shops are full of dates and Ramadan food and desert.
Despite the rising prices and the difficult living conditions in Yemen, Yemenis are receiving the advent of Ramadan with great joy this year.
Hameed Ahmed, a teacher, said that the most emotional component of Ramadan is the day before the start of the holy month. People forget all their problems and find solutions for the conflicts between themselves, freeing their hearts of grudges and frustrations.
The three days before Ramadan have a different meaning among women. Huda Ali, a university student, said that these are the days that she and her friends prepare these days as early as two weeks in advance.
Huda and her friends made a different this year, celebrating the final day of Shabaan five days prior to the university’s celebration. “This year, we created a different celebration, gathering in one of the university halls and preparing many different kinds of food. Then we invited our teachers to share our joy with us,” she happily said.
Huda will also celebrate the day before Ramadan with her family in a different way. On this day, all of Huda’s married sisters and brothers will gather in the family home with their children. They will eat lunch before the men leave for the sauna (Hamam) and the women gathered in a big room for more eating and talking.
When the men return from the sauna, they will sit and chew qat with each other. “The most interesting thing is that we are close to each other and all the family gathered in this day,” she added.
Ramadan has a special flavor in the hearts of children. Youths of all ages gather in the streets near their houses to play football, after which they will visit the sauna, and finally the mosque.
After that they will congregate in the street to belt out Ramadan songs, loudly reflecting the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Ahmed Al-Haori, a father, said that despite his concerns over the expensive requirements of Ramadan and its high prices, “all of these concerns go away when I see the joy of my children for the coming of Ramadan.”
“Their joy removes all the worries of me and brings me back to the joy of this holy month” he said.