After a long month of fasting during Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr presents a festive respite for Muslims everywhere. Also called the Festival of Breaking the Fast – fitr translates to breakfast. The exact date of the celebration depends on the Islamic calendar and varies according to when the new moon is sighted.
Eid Al Fitr entails prayers and other Islamic obligations such as zakat (charity) but that’s not all. Although essentially a religious holiday, the event is often an occasion for lively get-togethers and social gatherings with family, friends and neighbors. This year, however, the festival will take a new look as large congregations are discouraged in view of the global pandemic.
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 is a celebration of abundance, as everyone sends food to friends and family. In the UAE and the Gulf, it is also a special time for children. Elders – whether parents or other older adults – give small amounts of money to young children as Eidiyah. The tradition is not restricted to members of the family and everyone can participate. Longtime residents of the UAE speak of how everyone they met gave them Eidiyah, often in beautifully decorated envelopes.
In recent years, it has become a way to instill a sense of responsibility around money, although some families prefer to give gifts such as gadgets or toys instead. If your family doesn’t live with you, or you cannot get together with them this year, think about wiring money to their bank accounts instead.