The Annual Break-fast Festival

In the Islamic faith, there are 2 Eid Celebrations every year. In a previous blog, we wrote about the “greater Eid” (Eid el Adha), which involves the sacrifice of sheep.

Here we will consider the second Eid, the “smaller” Eid, yet still very important: Eid el Fitr.

The word Eid means FESTIVAL. Fitr means breaking the fast, or BREAK-FAST. This Eid happens around the 1st day of the 10th month of Shawwal (Islamic calendar). It marks the end of the month of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting daily from sunrise to sunset. The exact day of the Eid is only announced when there has been a confirmed sighting of the new moon: the classic symbol of Islam: the crescent moon and a star.

The first day of the Eid is a national holiday in many countries. Some may choose to have 3 days holiday, and then many individuals take some leave to extend this time together.

WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ON THIS EID?

The main elements of this Eid are:

  • Zakat (charity) to remember the less fortunate by either donating food or money
  • Social gatherings with family
  • Festival meals (especially desserts and cookies)
  • Gift giving (children love the “Eid”, gifts of money from their elders!)
  • Visiting the graves of relatives who have passed on.

On waking at dawn, there are special prayers and usually a sermon (khutba). The festive greeting of “EID MUBARAK” is happily passed on from one to the other. This means enjoy your holiday, or blessed holiday. After the prayers, families will usually gather together for a big meal, with all their favourite foods and desserts, celebrating the end of the fast. Usually this is done in the home of the senior member of the family / head of the household and there is often gift giving, presents and cards. 

The following days, people will go and visit the in-laws or other relatives and friends.

Most people will be wearing new clothes! The last week of Ramadan usually includes a time when everyone who can, goes out to purchase new clothes for each member of their family. Many people choose to buy traditional / cultural clothes. The younger ones tend to want items in the latest colour or fashion trend. So these gatherings are usually with everyone feeling very pretty / handsome in their new clothes: from the youngest to the oldest!

After the meal, most people will “go out” and visit a public garden or park, go to the Zoo or walk along the Corniche (road next to a river or sea). It is usually a very festive and communal day, with large gatherings of families and relatives. 

At the time of writing this Blog, it is May 2020, in the heart of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. 

Many Muslims usually travel back to their home towns for this Eid, and enjoy extended time with their families and friends. The mosques are usually packed for the prayers, and crowds of people are usually seen at all the favourite outdoor venues. With all the restrictions and social distancing protocols required, the Eid of 2020 is going to be a bleak and very different time for our Muslim friends. Let us remember them during this time:

They have finished their month of prayer and reflection, with a focus on forgiveness, and now it will be the long awaited time of celebration…. Which will be rather small, individual, isolated, and many will not be able to celebrate with their wider family.

So when we see our Muslim friends, let us greet them with the famous greeting: Eid Mubarak!

Or perhaps send them a message or a card….