Why kids LOVE the lunar calendar

Despite the fact the two-month summer holiday is hurtling towards us like a steam train, Son 2 is now on half term. With only 15 school days left until the end of term, springing a half-term holiday on us now does seem a little unnecessary. Unless you’re a teacher, I suppose.

I’ve mentioned this before, but expat children have so many days off school. Once you’ve transferred your life savings, taken out a bank loan and sold a kidney to pay the school fees, you can expect your little darlings to be actually taught for a grand total of 179 days a year. Not even half the year!

C’mon moon: I really need the kids back to school

It’s because children in the UAE enjoy the best of both worlds: Christian and Muslim holidays. Even though they’re not Islamic, my boys get time off for all the major Muslim festivals – the exact dates of which we don’t always know until just before, due to the fact Islamic holiday timings depend on sightings of the moon.

In our household, our calendar is further complicated by the fact our sons, who are in different schools, often have different holidays. It’s no wonder I get it totally wrong sometimes.

This list of holidays that parents in the UAE have to contend with cover with childcare doesn’t include all the extra days off given for teacher training and for unexpected shut-downs, thanks to problems with the water / flooding / earthquakes / chemical fire (yes really, see here) or SARS/MERS-like viruses.

– Winter vacation (18 Dec-6 Jan)

– Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday (24 Jan)

– Half Term (10-11 Feb)

– Easter vacation (24 Mar-7 Apr)

– Lailat al-Miraj (Ascension of the Prophet) and half term (4-6 Jun) circa*

– Summer vacation (27 Jun-2 Spt)

– Ramadan (predicted start 8-10 Jul): A month-long period of fasting for Muslims. If schools are in session during Ramadan (which they’re not this year), the school days are usually shortened by a couple of hours. It’s followed by the Eid al-Fitr holiday

– Arafat (Haj) Day – the second day of the pilgrimage (14 Oct)

– Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) (circa* 15 Oct) – rolled into a five-day half term

– Al-Hijra – Islamic New Year (4 Nov)

– UAE National Day (2-3 Dec)

Circa* = Moon-sighting committee confirms the date nearer the time, so published dates can be off by a couple of days

In my next life, I’m coming back as an expat child.

9 thoughts on “Why kids LOVE the lunar calendar

  1. We don’t have quite so many holidays, but the typical # of instructional days in the US is only about 180 anyway – so not a big change for us as far as timing goes! Since Korea doesn’t have any national religion (like Islam) there aren’t too many religious holidays, but we did just enjoy a week off in May for Buddha’s birthday (a HUGE deal in Korea.) There are also some fun extra days in the calendar, like ‘Children’s Day,’ which – according to my Korean friends – is pretty much like Christmas for Korean kids. This year, it was on Sunday, so there was no day off, but when it falls on a weekday, it is a holiday.

  2. Agree with Ms Caroline, the US has just as many holidays once you count in Jewish holidays, teacher training days, snow days, Hurricane Sandy days etc etc. However, I can totally see how having to wait for the cycle of the moon must drive you crazy!

    • I wonder how the UK compares – I’ve a feeling there’s more school there. For state schools, isn’t the holiday more like 5 or 6 weeks? Whenever we get back to England, it always seems that my niece and nephew have another few weeks of summer term to go.

  3. jen says:

    strange… my kids don’t get quite as many days off at their school here in doha. not sure if that is a good or a bad thing!

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