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Eid al-Fitr – Signaling the End of the Month-Long Ramadan

Sajetpa at Malayalam Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Eid al-Fitr – Signaling the End of the Month-Long Ramadan
Bernadine Racoma

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long Ramadan fasting in Islam. This is a time for celebration, the start of festivities and the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. According to the religious traditions of Islam, Eid is the only day in the month of Shawwal where Muslims are not permitted to fast.

The holiday is written in different forms: Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr or just Eid. More than one billion Muslims in every part of the globe will be celebrating this important holiday.

Eid translates to festival of breaking the fast. Friends and families will be gathering on this day to give thanks to Allah. It has no historical links. Instead, it is focused on the family and community where generosity is promoted.

Traditional activities include listening to a sermon or khutba, attending communal prayers and giving charitable donations or zakat al-fitr to the poor, in the form of food such as wheat flour, raisins, dates or barley or its monetary equivalent.

Eid Around The World

Although it is the time for celebration in the Muslim world, there are conflicts still going on in some parts of the Middle East. There is the diplomatic crisis in Qatar and the civil war in Syria.

Eid al-Fitr is a movable feast and cannot be predicted accurately using the Gregorian calendar. When a sighting of the new moon is confirmed, this is when Ramadan ends and the Shawwal begins. The new moon sighting depends on specific locations, so Eid celebration can be earlier or later.

This year, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia announced that Eid al-Fitr would be on June 25, whereas in some countries, it is going to be celebrated on June 26. When Eid starts, the festivities can continue for three days.

When Eid al-Fitr starts, Muslims often gather in mosques or large open spaces for Salat al-Eid or special prayers. This is followed by breakfast, which is the Muslims’ first daytime meal after Ramadan. It is common for them to give alms to the less fortunate and exchange gifts. Many wear new clothes, symbolizing renewal of the spirit.

Aside from the festivities and merrymaking activities, many Muslims are enjoying time off work as well. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, government employees are enjoying a longer vacation. The government extended their holiday this year, starting on June 16 and ending on July 8.

There are 20 million Muslims in China and in Xinjiang, the Uighur Muslims will be holding their annual gathering, despite being closely watched by local authorities. The same is true in the province of Ningxia. These two provinces host the Uighur and Hui people and they enjoy a public holiday during Eid, together with other residents. The local government also makes it a toll-free day for every resident in these two provinces.

Some of the 3.5 million refugees living in Turkey have decided to head home to Syria on foot to celebrate Eid al-Fitr together with the relatives they have left behind. Due to the scarcity of jobs in Turkey, others have decided not to return to their host country and try their luck in finding a job once again in Syria. However, those refugees who wish to go back to Turkey will have to go through the normal immigration process imposed by the country.

It’s tradition to prepare massive amounts of food during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and nutritionists from the University of Maryland Medical Center are giving out friendly reminders.

Since the Muslims have been fasting for a month, it is recommended that they eat slowly, in smaller portions to prevent gastrointestinal problems. Consume a variety of food throughout the day, choosing those rich in protein and carbohydrate and combining them with vegetables and fresh fruits. They also caution about consuming too much sugar. It is also good to continue drinking fluids the entire day.

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