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5 things you should know about Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting

Muslims around the globe are gearing up for the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this weekend.

Throughout the holiday, observers fast from sunrise to sunset and partake in nightly feasts.

» RELATED: Muslims in America, by the numbers 

Here are five things to know about Islam’s sacred month:

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is the holy month of fasting, spiritual reflection and prayer for Muslims.

It is believed to be the month in which the Prophet Muhammad revealed the holy book — Quran — to Muslims.

The word “Ramadan” itself is taken from the Arabic word, “ramad,” an adjective describing something scorchingly dry or intensely heated by the sun.

» RELATED: Mahershala Ali makes history as first Muslim to win an Academy Award 

When is Ramadan?

The Islamic calendar is based on the moon’s cycle and not the sun’s (what the Western world uses), so the dates vary year to year.

By the Gregorian solar calendar, Ramadan is 10 to 12 days earlier every year.

In 2017, Ramadan is expected to start on May 27 and last through June 24.

Last year, the first day of Ramadan was June 6, 2016.

>> Read more trending news 

To determine when exactly the holy month will begin, Muslim-majority countries look to local moon sighters, according to Al Jazeera.

The lunar months last between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon on the 29th night of each month. If the moon is not visible, the month will last 30 days.

» RELATED: 5 inspiring quotes from iconic Muslim women to celebrate #MuslimWomensDay 

What do Muslims do during Ramadan and why?

Ramadan is known as the holy month of fasting, with Muslims abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.

Fasting during the holiday is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with the daily prayer, declaration of faith, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Last year, according to Al Jazeera, fasting hours around the globe ranged between 11 and 22 hours and in the US, 16 to 18 hours.

The fast is intended to remind Muslims of the suffering of those less fortunate and bring believers closer to God (Allah, in Arabic). 

During the month, Muslims also abstain from habits such as smoking, caffeine, sex, and gossip; this is seen as a way to both physically and spiritually purify oneself while practicing self-restraint.

Here’s what a day of fasting during Ramadan is like:

  • Muslims have a predawn meal called the “suhoor.”
  • Then, they fast all day until sunset.
  • At sunset, Muslims break their fast with a sip of water and some dates, the way they believe the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast more than a thousand years ago.
  • After sunset prayers, they gather at event halls, mosques or at home with family and friends in a large feast called “iftar."
How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?

Toward the end of the month, Muslims celebrate Laylat al-Qadr or “the Night of Power/Destiny” — a day observers believe Allah sent the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad to reveal the Quran’s first verses.

On this night, which falls on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, Muslims practice intense worship as they pray for answers and seek forgiveness for any sins.

To mark the end of Ramadan, determined by the sighting of the moon on the 29th, a 3-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr brings families and friends together in early morning prayers followed by picnics, feasts and fun.

Does every Muslim fast during Ramadan?

According to most interpreters of the Quran, children, the elderly, the ill, pregnant women, women who are nursing or menstruating, and travelers are exempt from fasting.

Some interpreters also consider intense hunger and thirst as well as compulsion (someone threatening another to do something) exceptions.

But as an entirety, whether Muslims fast or not often depends on their ethnicity and country.

Many Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, for example, observe the monthlong fast during Ramadan, according to 2012 data from the Pew Research Center.

In fact, in Saudi Arabia, Muslims and non-Muslims can be fined or jailed for eating in public during the day, according to the Associated Press.

But in the United States and in Europe, many Muslims are accepting of non-observers.

Russell Wilson faces backlash after posting Mother's Day message to wife Ciara

Russell Wilson got some heat from fans of rapper Future for a post on social media in honor of Mother’s Day.

>> Read more trending news 

The pro football quarterback took to Instagram on Sunday to wish his wife, singer Ciara, a happy Mother’s Day.

“Nothing better than spending time with you. You are an amazing mom & I’m so grateful I get to spend the rest of my life with you & raising our kids. I love you! #HappyMothersDay Weekend my love. @Ciara,” he wrote. 

Wilson and Ciara just welcomed their first child together, daughter Sienna Princess. Ciara also has a 3-year-old son from a previous relationship with rapper Future. 

Future’s fans were quick to point out the use of the word “our” in Wilson’s tribute, because he is not the biological father of her son.

>> Related: Melania Trump's 2006 interview highlights her first months of motherhood

“Russ, go worry about your done career. The man’s child can never be yours,” one follower wrote.

“You can call him your son, but you did no work to make that child, so try again,” another Instagram user said.

Several of Wilson’s fans were quick to jump to his defense and applauded him for referring to his stepson as his own.

“He’s doing a great job,” one commenter wrote. “When you marry, you take on that role as a father to her child! What’s the fuss about anyway?”

“Being a stepfather, I’ll never get in the way of the relationship of my son and his dad,” one man wrote. “But if he is with me, I feed, clothe and help raise him. Then he's my son. If (a child’s biological father) didn't want that, (he) should’ve married (his child’s mother). Or try to get full custody. That probably won't happen. So (in) other words, it’s our son.”

How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Friday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

Cinco de Mayo: Five things you didn’t know

Cinco de Mayo is upon us. Many will be celebrating the holiday with margaritas and Mexican food.

>> Read more trending news  

Here are five facts about the Mexican holiday that you can use to impress your friends:

1) Despite a common misconception, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. The holiday celebrates the  Battle of Puebla , where, against all odds, the Mexicans made a stand against an invading French army in 1862.

2) Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the United States than it is in Mexico, with the exception of the city of Puebla. Mexico holds more of a celebration on its  Independence Day, September 16, than it does on Cinco de Mayo.

3) The holiday means big business for the avocado industry. The  California Avocado Commission says that Americans consume around 81 million avocados during Cinco de Mayo.

4) Chandler, Arizona, has a unique way of celebrating Cinco de Mayo. It hosts a Chihuahua race every year.

>>  Quiz: How much do you know about Cinco de Mayo?

5) The 2010 U.S. Census estimates that about 31.8 million U.S. residents are of Mexican origin. The largest concentration of Mexican-Americans is in Los Angeles, the city that holds the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S.

Woman turns son's hospital bed into giant Easter basket

A woman turned her son’s hospital bed at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, into a giant Easter basket, and social media loved it.

>> Read more trending news

The hospital posted the image on its Facebook page on Monday. Within 24 hours, the post has nearly 2,000 likes and nearly 400 shares.“The lengths great parents will go to for their precious children,” one commenter wrote. 

The family is showing support for the post and have commented that they hope this becomes a trend for patients at the hospital every Easter.

WATCH: Melania Trump seems to nudge president during national anthem at Easter Egg Roll

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump presented the first White House Easter Egg Roll of the new administration. Though the event kicked off without a hitch, there was a very brief moment that caught some journalists’ eyes.

>> Read more trending news

As the national anthem played, the first lady lightly tapped the president to indicate that it was time to place his hand over his heart:

Some openly mocked the president after:

Photos: White House Easter egg roll

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump host their first White House Easter egg roll.

Inside Mar-a-Lago as Trump spends Easter in Palm Beach

Though President Donald Trump for the most part has stayed out of public view since arriving Thursday evening in Palm Beach, photos and videos shared on social media from his Mar-a-Lago Club provide a look at how the president is spending his weekend.

Trump, who is expected to leave Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon, went to his Trump International Golf Club in suburban West Palm Beach on Friday and Saturday, spending several hours there each time. The White House has not confirmed if the president was golfing. 

>> Read more trending news

The president is joined this weekend by first lady Melania Trump, who visited a local home for victims of domestic abuse on Friday

Also spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago: all of President Trump’s children except Ivanka Trump and her family, who are in Canada for Passover. Trump’s children, Mar-a-Lago Club members and guests posted images as they celebrated the holiday.

Donald Trump Jr. shared this photo on Instagram of his daughter, Kai, with her grandfather Thursday evening.

More photos posted at Mar-a-Lago this weekend:

>> Visit MyPalmBeachPost.com for more coverage of Trump's weekend in Palm Beach.

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