A Window into Our World: Adding Elements of Ramadan to Your Seasonal Nature Table
The Season of Ramadan
Muslims across the globe observe the blessed month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar, each year through fasting for those who are capable, good deeds, and acts of community and individual worship. The season of Ramadan fills our hearts with joy and causes us to pause and lean deep into its wonder. From the way that we welcome the moon, a natural phenomenon that leads us through each day of the month, to the late nights with family and community, and the way things slow, Ramadan makes space for reverence and reflection.
Each year, Ramadan moves slowly through the seasons that carry us about each year. From summer to spring, winter to autumn and back again. And so, each Ramadan feels a little different. Ramadans from my early days as a mother, not long ago, meant long summer days, sandy toes, and iftar tables painted with seashells and driftwood. And, although it seemed like forever, it wasn’t long before Ramadan tiptoed into spring. Spring’s Ramadan holds a beauty of its own. It smells of jasmine and local super blooms remind us to pause in awe of nature’s bounty and serve as a living metaphor for the promise of personal and spiritual renewal that each Ramadan brings.
The Importance of Reverence
For our family, collecting seasonal treasures each Ramadan and creating space to display them in all of their beauty, alongside other items we find to be representations of Ramadan, has become an important aspect of our Ramadan rhythm. Our Ramadan table invites us each day to connect with nature, live in the moment, and establish a peaceful knowing of time and place as we walk the days and nights of Ramadan with our children. And as the days darken, and the moon drifts over the horizon, our seasonal table comes to life with twinkle lights and a new candle for each period of the month, in sets of ten days, reminding us to dig deeper into ourselves and the underlying values of the blessed month.
Our seasonal nature table reminds us to sit in reverence of the beauty of Ramadan. Each year, we slowly build it–moving our delicate glass and iron lanterns, which we call fanoos, from the spots where they hang on our back porch to the small tabletop that holds treasures from nature walks recent and past. We twirl twinkle lights around large branches collected on walks with my youngest, hanging them around the home strategically to provide light for our sunset floor picnics–at first a necessity with many small children crawling around as we broke our fast, and now a sweet tradition we can’t bare to part with each night.
A chair sits next to our seasonal table, holding felted crowns for moon sighting each evening. You see, we mustn’t eat until sundown and instead of relying on apps and calendars I have taught my children to connect with the natural signs gifted to us. And so, each evening before we pop dates into our mouths we stand on a wobbly white chair, from many years of use, slip on our crowns and announce to our home, and anyone that might hear us, that it is time to break our fast. During the day, crescent moon and twinkle star ornaments sit on our seasonal ring to remind us of where we are in time. While plant dyed silks in deep blues and vibrant yellows grace our space, serving as a backdrop for a tiny wool felt butterfly climbing up toward the crescent moon–a sweet tale I crafted this year to remind my children of the most important values and virtues of this beautiful month.
The Seasonal Nature Table as a Mirror and a Window into Our Worlds
A Ramadan table reminds my children that the festivals they cherish are a source of beauty and have a place in the seasons that carry us through each year. Connecting with their Ramadan table each day reminds them of their identities as Muslims, within the context of their community, and encourages their own sense of belonging within the cycles of the year. As an educator, I use the term mirror to explain this act–a practice that honors and illuminates the lived experiences of children and families. Mirrors, however, should not be used alone in the education of children–whether in the home or school environment. Windows, which create opportunities for empathy and perspective taking, telling the stories of other’s identities, experiences, and values, is an important part of the education of young children and should be a valued addition to any seasonal nature table.
While preparing to welcome the season of Ramadan this year, I felt a strong pull in my heart to create community. Through meaningful conversations with many non-Muslim parents and educators, it occurred to me that there was a desire to respectfully teach non-Muslim children about the spirit and beauty of Ramadan. However, most that I spoke to did not know how to go about it. From those dialogues, grew my wish to provide a few simple steps for the non-Muslim family to craft windows into the world of Ramadan within the empty spaces of their own existing seasonal nature tables.
For the family that does not celebrate Ramadan, but values holding space for other family and life experiences as they walk through the seasons, adding elements of light, reverence for the moon’s cycle as it moves through Ramadan, and the colors of starlit nights are three simple ways to add tiny gems to your seasonal table this spring. As I’ve mentioned before, my children look forward to seeing the moon each night. For them, it’s about the excitement and anticipation as they wait for the sun to set over the horizon, telling them it is time to eat and for many time to begin the acts of worship and community that begin once night falls. Once they see it, their eyes brighten and their hearts swell knowing another evening of celebration, food, and community is beginning. For your family, you may also wish to invite your children to sight the moon each night for the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan so that they might get a little inkling of the excitement felt by their Muslim friends and community members–whether local or global. Perhaps you could do what we have decided to do this year, collect an item from nature each day throughout Ramadan to help us mark the sunsets leading us closer and closer to the ultimate celebration, Eid al Fitr, or the grand festival of breaking the fast.
Children, Muslim or not, enjoy the magic of candles and twinkle lights. The gentle hues and the sweet smell of beeswax warm their hearts. If it interests you, you could begin to have your evening meals by candlelight, or if sundown proves too late for you, you could bring your seasonal table to life as you usher your children to sleep by turning on the twinkle lights, lighting a candle and reading a story about Ramadan from your collection, local library, or the booklist that I will share below.
It doesn’t take much to craft a meaningful window into the world around you. I hope that these tiny gems that I have shared result in increased awareness and understanding of the beautiful global community that your children belong to. I will add that while seeking community in person, locally, is always a priority, it is not always possible. In that case, my hope is that these words serve as a resource for connecting your home and hearts with the diverse festivals and celebrations that make up the fabric of our global community. If you happen to create a little window into our world with your seasonal nature table, please tag me so that I can share. And, if you’d like to witness my journey bringing beauty, reverence, and simplicity to the festivals we honor please follow along @chasingwildones and the hashtag I have created to honor Ramadan #thirtysunsetsandamoon.
A Ramadan Booklist by The Conscious Kid