Jordanian celebrations and national holidays
- Ramadan the holy month of fasting for Muslims. Dates differ from year to year. Business hours during the day are shortened, but everything remains open and many business hold longer hours after sunset.
- Eid Al-Fitr lasts 3 days and marks the end of Ramadan.
- Eid Al-Adha is the most important holiday of the year and lasts 4 days. It is approximately 69 days after Eid al-Fitr.
- Christmas and Easter are important holidays for the small Christian population in Jordan.
Jordanian celebrities you should know
The most well-known Jordanians are the members of the Royal Family. King Abdullah and Queen Rania are popular rulers and their portraits are displayed in every business. Their children are Hussein (crown prince), Iman, Salma and Hashem.
Food in Jordan: taboos and favourites
- Mansef is the quintessential Jordanian dish (Lamb over rice with Jameed – a salty yogurt sauce – poured on top). Traditionally Mansef is eaten by hand (using only the right hand) off one shared platter. Plates and spoons are usually used as well.
- Falafel, Hummus and pita bread are common for breakfast or lunch.
- Shawerma is also a popular for a quick lunch.
- Taboos: pork and alcohol. You will not find pork, as it’s forbidden in Islam, and alcohol is a bit taboo, though it’s pretty easy to find a shop selling alcoholic drinks and some restaurants serve alcohol too.
Historical figures in Jordan
- King Hussein, the father of the current King, Abdullah, ruled Jordan from 1952 until his death in 1999. He is well loved and revered. Notably, he led Jordan through over 40 years of Arab-Israeli conflict and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
- Queen Noor is widely known among foreigners interested in Jordan. She was married to the late King Hussein and was American by birth. She renounced her American citizenship and became a Jordanian citizen.
Key words in Jordanian culture
- Inshallah (انشالله) is perhaps one of the most frequent words you will hear in Jordan. Literally “If God wills it”, the phrase is used in countless ways to communicate many things regarding making and keeping plans. Don’t be alarmed if after making plans for a business meeting your colleague replies “Inshallah”…they are simply recognising that only an act of God could prevent you meeting at the agreed time.
- AlHumdullilah (الحمدلله) is also quite common and can be literally translated “Praise God”. This is the typical response when you ask someone how they’re doing. “I’m fine, AlHumdullilah”.
Landmarks and places of cultural significance in Jordan
- Petra. A historical and archeological city in the mountains of Jordan – inhabited as early as 7000 BC. Petra is an impressive city carved into the side of beautiful mountains.
- Wadi Rum – a majestic desert which has been the site of several movies including The Martian and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
- Mount Nebo is a place of religious significance, especially for Christians, as it’s the Biblical site where Moses was taken to see the promised land of Israel.
- The Dead Sea is a popular destination. It is the lowest place on earth. The sea has so much salt and other minerals that you float to the surface.
Language skills and foreigners in Jordan
Arabic is the language spoken in Jordan, though you will find many who speak English. English is taught in schools and in many larges shops and restaurants you are likely to find signs and menus in English. Most Jordanians would probably say that French is the 3rd most important language after Arabic and English.
Popular music genres in Jordan
Arab music has a distinctive sound and is it’s own genre. The Oud is a stringed instrument that is popular in the region, and bedouin music often features a hand drum called a Tablah. Vocals are important and often tell a story with the song. Bagpipes are often used as well along with a reed flute.
Jordanians’ favourite sports
- Football is the most popular sport among both men and women, but men play much more often.
- Basketball is also played as a team sport.
- Swimming is common, especially for kids and teens.
- Tae-kwon-do is also popular amongst children in Jordan.
Symbols of identity
- The shmag is the red and white checked scarf often worn on men’s heads. It is a symbol of Jordan.
- The Jordanian flag is flown widely and considered a symbol of national pride.
- Household objects often have religious significance, such as an ornate copy of the Quran, likely to be displayed on a bookshelf.