The world is a melting pot of traditions, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. One of the fascinating parts of our existence is that we are all different, and this diversity should be acknowledged and appreciated. No matter where you are in the world, the coming of a new year is a time of deep reflection and gratitude for the year that has passed.
Personally, New Year’s Day is only a celebration when I’m surrounded by friends and family. And I give thanks for the rollercoaster that is life by setting new intentions for the year to come. And in honor of all things new, I’d like to share a few things you may not have known about the Islamic New Year! From traditional dishes to ideal New Year’s gifts, read below so you know how to celebrate the Islamic New Year with your Muslim friends and loved ones!
What is Islamic New Year?
The Islamic calendar is quite unique. Unlike the common Gregorian calendar, it follows the lunar system, which is 11 to 12 days shorter than the regular Western calendar. And the Islamic year starts on the day the Prophet Muhammad began his migration.
Muharram, also known as the Hijri New Year, begins on the first day of the first month of the Islamic calendar rather than the first day of January. The first year of the Islamic calendar began in 622 AD when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Medina with his companions. This journey essentially marked the beginning of the Islamic era. The calendar was initiated by one of the Prophet’s holy companions, Umar bin Al Khattab to unify the people into one system.
In the Arabic calendar, the New Year falls on a different day every year because the calendar comprises 354 days rather than 365. Rituals and prayers form a big part of the occasion, with Muharram being a sacred time for Muslims worldwide. The Islamic calendar is a cyclical timeline that sheds light on important religious and historical events throughout the Islamic era.
How is the Islamic New Year Celebrated?
Muslim communities all around the globe celebrate the Arabic New Year. It is a public holiday in the majority of Islamic countries. Celebrations and customs vary in different sects and cultures of the Islamic religion, but most often, it includes prayers and religious acts of worship. Unlike the New Year celebrations of other communities, the Hijri New Year is usually a reflective time, with Muslims spending the day in silence and prayer.
In fact, the entire month is of holy significance. The month of Muharram also holds the holy day of Ashura. This commemorates when Noah left the Ark and Moses crossed the Red Sea. The entire lunar calendar is created around a cycle that falls back year after year. The calendar is designed this way so that Muslims can experience similar weather events as the holy figures in their faith did.
The Islamic New Year is an important religious event celebrated with family, friends, and extended family members. They carry out prayers and rituals at the mosque and some public spaces that may hold historical significance. It is also common for Muslim families to gather together after prayer and eat a meal together. People of the faith could share stories, ideas, experiences, and feelings to mark the new year.
What Gifts are Appropriate for Islamic New Year
Like most special occasions, exchanging gifts and thoughtful gestures is integral to the Islamic New Year. We understand that when it comes to gifting, there can be confusion about what to give your loved ones. You want to give a gift of value that will make your recipient feel good without offending them.
Gift-giving is encouraged in Islamic communities and Arabic countries as it is considered sacred. There are many stories of how the Prophet gave gifts of perfume, livestock, and clothing. Yet, the most common gift he gave was the gift of food. This is why giving food has become such a strong tradition amongst people within the Islamic faith. To help you choose the perfect gift, we have created a list of Islamic New Year gift ideas so that you can surprise your loved ones this year.
Flowers and Fruit Baskets:
Fruit baskets are bright and uplifting gifts you can send for almost any occasion. Fruits are loved by all, making them a versatile and appropriate gifting option for the Islamic new year. Send your loved ones a beautiful fruit basket laced with bright flowers and an assortment of fresh fruits to their liking.
You can never go wrong with a delicious cheese box! (Unless your recipient is vegan, of course). Even so, cheese boxes make for a great gift to be enjoyed by the entire family. Send a box filled with various yummy cheeses, bread, and crackers that will surely delight your lucky cheese lovers. Although cheese and wine make a fine pair, it’s best to avoid sending alcoholic beverages to your Muslim recipients, as drinking is forbidden in the religion. Scroll through our catalog and select your ideal cheese basket.
Assorted Tea Box:
Tea forms an important part of the Arabic culture as it is most often consumed at social gatherings and family events. When visiting someone’s home, tea is served to guests as it denotes a sense of hospitality and kindness. Sending a flavored tea box as a gift to your friends and family this new year is a great way to send them well wishes and some TLC.
Dates and Dry Fruits Box:
Dates hold a spiritual and historical significance in the Islamic community. So, a wonderful gift idea for the Hijri New Year would be to send a basket full of assorted dates and dry fruits.
Take care not to include products that contain alcohol or pork. Refrain from gifts that contain profanity or irreverent language. Muslim cultures are usually modest, so it’s best to avoid overly expensive gifts.
How to Make Rice Kheer aka Rice Pudding
Sharing stories and spending time with family members are some of the wonderful joys of celebrating the new year. Yet, we all know that a special occasion is nothing without a table laden with delicious foods, desserts, and snacks. The phrase “new year, healthier me” might be circling through your mind, but I prefer the phrase “seize the moment,” which is why I recommend that you enjoy all yummy snacks to your heart’s content!
With that in mind, I would like to share a creamy and aromatic dessert recipe to satisfy all your sweet cravings. The Rice Kheer, aka Rice Pudding, is a rich and creamy pudding made with rice, milk, nuts, and cardamom. We conquer; this dessert is the best way to finish a meal and start a New Year!
- ¼ cup basmati rice
- 4 cups of whole milk (replace with plant-based milk if vegan)
- 6 tablespoons of brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 pinch of saffron strands
- 1 tablespoon chopped or sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon chopped cashews
- 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
- 4 chopped dates
- Wash and rinse the risk. Let the rice soak in water for about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- While the rice is soaking, roast the nuts and put them aside.
- Grease a heavy to medium pot before adding the milk and bringing it to a boil.
- Add the rice and stir often to prevent the rice from burning. While stirring, keep the flame on low to medium.
- Cook until rice is soft, and add sugar and saffron.
- Turn the flame low and stir continuously until the pudding thickens.
- Once the pudding is thick, add the nuts and cardamom powder. Stir for 5 minutes and add the chopped dates towards the end.
- Turn off the flame and place in a dish.
- Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve hot.
I hope that you enjoyed discovering more about the Islamic New Years traditions! If you wish to send a gift to your loved ones this New Year, our customer service team is on standby 24/7 to assist you in selecting the perfect gift for your recipient!
You’ve learned a ton about Islamic New Year; now what?
- Send a gift to your Islamic friends who celebrate!
- Learn even more with our blog
- Sign up for new blog announcements and exclusive subscriber savings!
Born and raised in her beloved mother city Cape Town, Amy-Paige Cox is a writer, poet and plant mom. A hopeless romantic at heart, she loves exploring different parts of the world, all the while documenting her ever-changing perspectives with pen and paper. Although tempted by numerous interests, her life-long goal is to be a globe-trotting children’s book author.