Eid-al-Fitr: What Is It, Why It Is Celebrated and How It’s Held Around the World

What is Eid-al-Fitr?

Eid-al-Fitr (also written and pronounced as Eid-ul-Fitr), also known as Eid Mubarak, is the first of two Eids of the Islamic (lunar) calendar year. It rounds off the month of Ramadan, which Muslims observe every year to acknowledge Allah’s revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Not to be confused with Eid-al-Adha, this Eid comes after the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims will not eat or drink during the daytime for a 29- or 30-day period. It’s part of Sawm (fasting) commitment, one of the five pillars of Islam, the Culture Trip cited.

The holiday is all about the breaking of the dawn-to-dusk fast and is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal (the 10th month). It falls approximately 11 days earlier than the one the previous year when following the Gregorian (solar) calendar.

When is Eid al-Fitr?

Astronomers predict that this year, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will celebrate Eid on May 23 or 24. While the celebration comes around a month after the beginning of Ramadan, the date also depends on the sighting of the crescent moon.

Eid-al-Fitr: What Is It, Why It Is Celebrated and How It’s Held Around the World
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The moon will not be visible at the same time across the world, so countries will celebrate the occasion over two days, according to inews.

Why is Eid-al-Fitr celebrated?

Eid-al-Fitr is regarded as a time to celebrate, with Muslims gathering their friends and family to show gratitude toward God following the previous month of reflection. The holiday serves as a great reminder for Muslims to be grateful for what they have, and to share with those who may be less fortunate.

Europe’s biggest Eid celebration, Eid in the Park, which takes place in Birmingham, has already been canceled as it does not comply with COVID-19 rules.

How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated?

Eid celebrations will begin with prayers at dawn, which usually takes place at a mosque, although lockdown restrictions may impact the number of people allowed in a place of worship.

The holy day is heavily focused on family and friends, with many in the community meeting up to share food and stories.

As well as giving thanks, Muslims give an obligatory payment to charity (zakat al-Fitr), but this one is a smaller donation compared with the usual 2.5-percent zakat that wealthy Muslims are taxed. This is another of the five pillars of Islam. In addition to these payments, some Muslims take the initiative to work voluntarily at soup kitchens and hand out their own food to those in need of relief.

As with Eid-al-Adha, gifting is a big part of Eid celebrations. Children receive eidia offerings in money bags, and sweet treats such as cookies and dates are exchanged among loved ones, neighbors, colleagues, friends and even strangers. Family members will also buy one another presents, although most of these are saved for the youngest members of each family.

Celebrations in different parts of the world

Countries across the world hold huge events to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr. Days of fireworks shows are especially popular in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as people take the opportunity to spend quality time together.

Eid Al Fitr is marked around the world with vibrant celebrations that are distinctive to each region. Let’s take a trip across continents – from South Asia to the Middle East and North Africa – as we take a look at some local traditions associated with the celebration.

Eid-al-Fitr: What Is It, Why It Is Celebrated and How It’s Held Around the World
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The festivities begin with morning cleansing known as “ghusl”. This is the process of washing the body to rid it of spiritual impurities. After that, Muslims put on their finest clorhing. Dressing differs all around the world and, depending on likeness, what Muslims wear on Eid al–Fitr can differ in color, shape, and style. In certain countries, women also adorn their hands with intricate henna patterns to mark this holy event.

Celebrating Eid al–Fitr in Turkey

Turkish Eid al–Fitr celebrations are marked by sunny beaches! Yes, you read that right! Many Turks flock to the beach during the Eid al–Fitr holiday to take advantage of the hot weather. With Muslims making up close to 98% of the population in Turkey, many families travel to different provinces to visit relatives during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

So where does a visit to the beach come in? Other than visiting family on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations, Muslims in Turkey also make use of the second and third day to lounge by the inviting waters of the sea. Fishing, swimming, and other fun–filled activities ensue at these sandy coasts as family and friends take advantage of the long public holiday to rest and relax.

Colorful festival in Singapore

On the sunny island of Singapore, one of the highlights of the Eid al–Fitr celebrations is the explosion of colors lighting up the Geylang Serai area. One of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements, Geylang Serai has been the center of Eid al–Fitr celebrations for Muslims living in Singapore. A spectacular display of lights illuminates the streets of Geylang Serai each year. We’ve heard these displays can feature over 50 different types of light and visual installations, all depicting a kaleidoscope of lively color, Tour Hero reported.

Geylang Serai is also home to the annual Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar. Food is definitely the center of attraction at the bazaar, which features over a hundred food vendors that serve up gloriously divine traditional Malay foods. Over the last several years, vendors have also been serving Instagram–worthy foods like bubble–tea desserts and flaming marshmallows on a stick. A feast for the eyes and a treat for the belly!

Read More: Top 15 Most Popular Festivals and Events in Singapore

Iceland

The celebration of Eid al–Fitr in Iceland is by far the most unique on this list. That said, while the community is certainly growing, Muslims still remain a minority of the Icelandic population.

Leading up to the celebration Eid al–Fitr, Muslims in Iceland also partake in the dusk–to–dawn fast during Ramadan. In the peak of summer, the sun remains up in the sky for a longer time than usual, the sun setting at midnight and returning two hours later. This means that Muslims living in Iceland are required to fast up to 22 hours a day. While this sounds like a very challenging feat, Islamic scholars and experts have offered an alternative to those who live in the land of the midnight sun. Icelandic Muslims can choose to break their fast based on the timings of sunrise and sunset from the nearest country, or observe Saudi Arabia’s timezone.

Eid al–Fitr is celebrated in one of the few mosques in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. Guests who visit the mosque come armed with an international buffet of mouth–watering foods, including foods from Indonesian, Egyptian and Eritrean cuisines to celebrate this holy and joyous occasion. Much to the delight of the children, the little ones wear their best clothes and exchange gifts with fellow friends and family members.

Egypt

In Egypt, Eid al–Fitr celebrations are marked by the cheerful spirit of visiting older family members after morning prayers at the mosque. Often, elders give a small token of money to the younger ones in the family.

With family get–togethers being the focus of the festivities, many Egyptians flock to public gardens and zoos to celebrate the occasion. Giza Zoo is one of the most popular locations for families, with the zoo planning ahead of Eid al-Fitr celebrations to welcome throngs of families who come to view the animals and more importantly, spend well–earned time with each other.

New Zealand

Eid al–Fitr festivities in Auckland begin with the usual rituals of morning prayers and cleansing. After that, Eden Park opens its doors to the bi–annual Eid Day, a fun–filled event filled with activities for everyone. The festival at Eden Park features all sorts of carnival fun including mechanical bulls, human foosball, and a variety of food vendors selling delectable delights from around the region.

While Eid Day is a great time for families and friends to celebrate the occasion together, it also serves as an important event for visitors from all walks of life to learn and embrace the Muslim community during this special occasion.

What does the ‘Eid Mubarak’ greeting mean?

You’ll hear Muslims wishing each other ‘Eid Mubarak’, which refers to having a blessed day during Eid. It is said on both Eid days and is the expected greeting when meeting a fellow Muslim for the first time on Eid. Many non-Muslims who are familiar with the phrase and meaning of it also offer ‘Eid Mubarak’ as greetings on this day when they see Muslim friends and colleagues.

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