It is easy for us to forget that Malaysia is an Islamic country ( but with 3 dominant cultures) as we spend most of our time in Penang, immersed in the Chinese language and culture. But every day we have reminders, as this year our rental home is near a mosque so we can hear the distant sacred chants of the call to prayers several times a day.
Since it is not my holiday and they have so many holidays here with three dominant cultures, I actually didn't know it was Ramadan at first, but we were terribly puzzled that our very quiet neighborhood ( something needed when one sleeps with windows open) out of the blue was filled with fireworks, bulding- shaking loud firecrackers, racing motorbikes, gambling and noise all night long.
Finally, it clicked, and it appears that most sleep all day to help them fast from sunrise to sunset and then party and eat all night long. It didn't help that an empty building across the way hired a man who sent his 16 year old son to do night duty, so it was mostly his large group of teen friends creating all the racket all night long. Finally, we got the phone number of the owner and things got a bit better.
This was not pleasant during the week our child had midterm tests at her Mandarin school, but at last she is off too on the official holiday period for two weeks, so now that we are staying up late too, it's been more fun to watch the fireworks. They do the loud fire crackers even during the day, so I will be happy when we get back to our normal quiet and serene nights. Also, I got some meds that didn't fit into my mailbox on Friday, so now we have to wait until Wednesday to get it as the Post Office is closed until then. The mixed blessing of being a foreigner and outsider who doesn't know all the cultural customs.
When I woke this morning I knew it was another holiday because there was a constant group chanting I had never heard before, lots of men and male children dressed in bright colors walking the streets and women also dressed up with loads of food on their bikes or motorbikes. That is when I let Google teach me about Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in Malaysia.
What foreign holidays have you experienced abroad?