Jordan is a located at the confluence of Asia, Europe, and Africa. While this Middle Eastern nation may be small in size, it has been hugely significant through the course of human history.
Jordan’s capital city, Amman, has existed since ancient times, and is one of the oldest cities in the world. The country has seen a range of eras and been ruled by several different empires. This has resulted in a wealth of historical, cultural, and religious diversity. Many important and interesting festivals and celebrations take place in Jordan each year. These are our choices of the best ones.
This festival marks the start of the Islamic New Year. It is known as “Muharram” because that is the name of the first month in the Islamic calendar. It falls during a different time each year on the Gregorian calendar. This is because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, and depends on the sighting of the new moon to mark the beginning of each new month. Muharram is celebrated in many towns and cities across Jordan with food, dances, and traditions.
The majority of the population in Jordan is Muslim, so the Islamic holidays are of sizeable significance in the country. The major Islamic “holidays” include Ramadhaan, as well as the two Eid celebrations.
Ramadhaan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is not, technically, a holiday or festival, but is certainly a unique time during the year. In this month (which lasts for either 29 or 30 days, depending on the moon sighting), Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day. This means abstaining from food and drink, as well as engaging in extra religious activities and observing good manners and character.
Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadhaan, and is celebrated on the first of the following month, which is called Shawwaal. Eid-al-Fitr is the first of the two Eids- its defining characteristic is the giving of a small sum of charity to the needy, known as fitrah.
The second Eid holiday is called Eid-al-Adha. This takes place during the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar, known as Dhul Hijjah. Eid-al-Adha is the 3rd day of the 5-day Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims who have not travelled to the holy lands for the pilgrimage celebrate the festival in their home country. The defining characteristic of Eid-al-Adha is the significance of the days of Hajj, which correspond to events that Muslims believe occurred during the life of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). The other very important aspect is the ritual sacrificing of an animal, which is done on the day of Eid.
On both Eid days, families gather together for meals, to give gifts, and to celebrate together.
The Azraq Festival occurs in February in the city of Azraq. This is a small city located outside of Amman, in the mid-east of Jordan. Its chief purpose is to exhibit and promote the culture, art, and crafts of this beautiful town. It is a lively and joyous affair, with dances and music in the streets, local food on sale, and a wonderful coming together of the community. It is one of Jordan’s smaller festivals, but one that is certainly worth witnessing.
Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival
The town of Aqaba is found in the south of Jordan, on its tiny piece of coastline on the Red Sea. Each year, in February, a large festival is celebrated- the Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival. The purpose of this festival is to promote and celebrate the culture and traditions of the local Bedouin people. Handmade crafts are showcased for sale, helping to honour and preserve the traditions of the Bedouins.
The Jerash festival is one of Jordan’s biggest and most fascinating festivals. Held in the ancient and historic city of Jerash, it is a unique event. It is held in July each year and is open to the general public. It attracts thousands of visitors every year- both local and international. The festival includes a variety of cultural events, such as workshops, lectures, and seminars. Music, dancing, food, and handmade crafts add to the vibrant atmosphere.
Amman International Theatre Festival
The Amman International Theatre Festival takes place annually in Jordan’s capital city. It is held every March, and is hosted by an independent theatre company. Its purpose is to showcase the best in theatre and the arts from around Jordan. Both English and Arabic performances are put on, with a bit of a competitive edge to it. It is a great way to get a taste of the arts and culture of Jordan, as well as support local talent.
Rally of Jordan
The annual Rally of Jordan takes place every October. It is a major event in Jordan and attracts people from all over the country, as well as from other parts of the world. The Rally of Jordan features motorcar racing and rallying competitions, and is the ideal event for adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers. It is held out in the desert, with the dunes being used as tracks for the automobile racing. It is a spectacular event that features 1008km of track for the rally drivers to race on. The Jordan Rally is definitely not to be missed if you are a fan of cars and racing.