Iftar, the Muslim fast-breaking meal, listed as an intangible heritage site by UNESCO

On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) validated the inscription of iftar's "socio-cultural traditions" on the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

A Parisian family gathered for Iftar, the daily breaking of the fast, at sunset. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

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This was a request from Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkey. And this wish has now been fulfilled: iftar, the meal eaten every evening by Muslims at sunset after fasting during the month of Ramadan, was listed as an intangible heritage site by UNESCO on Wednesday 6 December. It is one of the community traditions whose importance has been recognized by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which met since Monday in Kasane, Botswana.


Iftar (also called eftari or iftor in the countries concerned) is observed by Muslims at sunset during the month of Ramadan, after the performance of all religious and ceremonial rites Unesco explains, adding: "It often takes the form of gatherings or meals, strengthening family and community ties and promoting mutual aid, solidarity and social exchanges.



New inscription on the #IntangibleHeritage List: Iftar/Eftari/Iftar/Iftor and its socio-cultural traditions, #Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 , Islamic Republic of #Iran 🇮🇷 , #Türkiye 🇹🇷 , #Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 .

Congratulations!https://t.co/c2HMPpStCA #LivingHeritage pic.twitter.com/VKd2O6UNxG

— UNESCO 🏛️ #Education #Sciences #Culture 🇺🇳 (@UNESCO) December 6, 2023

The UN's cultural organization emphasizes that its practice "is generally transmitted within families" and that "children and young people are often entrusted with the preparation of dishes during traditional meals". The breaking of the fast is a moment of joy and sharing that is experienced both in the home and in the public space. Recipes for shared dishes are passed down from generation to generation, as are children's stories, music and the games that accompany them. While the flavours may be different in different parts of the world, the values are universal: generosity, peace and tolerance.

In addition to a question of preservation, this approach is also a call for exchange between the different Muslim and non-Muslim communities on the diversity of traditions related to iftar. Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Uzbekistan also hope that this will show how an element of intangible cultural heritage can contribute to dialogue between peoples and cultures.

Iftar (breaking the fast) is that time in the early evening, at sunset, when Muslim families gather to eat. Farouk Batiche / AFP

(and with AFP)

Italian opera singing and the bolero are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage List

In addition to iftar, UNESCO also added Italian opera singing to its intangible heritage on Wednesday, as well as bolero, the music of love in Cuba and Mexico.

Rome welcomed the recognition of a brand of "global excellence". From Scarlatti to Verdi to Monteverdi, the great Italian opera arias are sung all over the world, embellished by famous interpretations such as that of the tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007).


Transmitted orally between a maestro and a student, this practice promotes collective cohesion and socio-cultural memory. It is a means of free expression and intergenerational dialogue, and its cultural value is recognized nationally and internationally," UNESCO said. The institution defines this art as "a physiologically controlled singing technique that intensifies vocal power in acoustic spaces such as auditoriums, arenas and churches."

The bolero was born in Santiago de Cuba, in the southeast of the island, at the end of the 1932th century, with Pepe Sanchez's Tristeza, before spreading to neighbouring Mexico. In <>, it was a Mexican, Consuelo Velazquez, known by her diminutive of Consuelito, who wrote Bésame mucho, the most famous bolero in the world covered by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles.

The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema (1940-1960) popularized the genre in Latin America, with actor Pedro Infante and singer-songwriter Agustin Lara. Cuban "boleristas" such as Benny Moré or Rita Montaner have made their careers in Mexico, where the fame of trios such as Los Panchos has spread beyond borders. The request for the inscription of the bolero on the Intangible Heritage of Humanity was submitted jointly by the two countries.

(with AFP)

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