Most Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have declared Friday the first day of Eid, but in POman and Morocco, the holiday will start on Saturday.
Millions of Muslims in at least 12 majority Muslim countries on Friday marked the beginning of the occasion of Eid al-Fitr festival with a special prayer in mosques and open-air areas.
Muslim celebrate the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of the fasting lunar month of Ramadan.
The beginning and end of Islamic months are determined by the sighting of the new moon, which means final decisions on stops and starts can appear to be at the last minute.
Saudi Arabia announced the celebration of Eid on Friday. Similar official announcements were made in Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, the Palestinian territories, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
During the last few days of Ramadan, it’s customary to prepare for Eid al-Fitr. For example, families go shopping for new clothes as everyone is expected to wear something new or look very smart during this holy time. It’s especially exciting for tweens and teenagers, as they get to usually choose three outfits!
For the adults, women get together to decorate their hands and feet with pretty henna designs, while men go to the barber for a shave and haircut.
At home, it’s important to clean ahead of Eid, and so many will spend hours preparing the home ahead of any visitors staying over. Cleanliness extends beyond the residence; you’ll find that plenty of car owners also wash their car the evening before Eid. So if you want to avoid long queues at the petrol station, perhaps wash your car two days before!
The first morning of Eid al-Fitr is always the strangest, as it marks a change of routine after 30 days of fasting. The day begins with a pre-dawn prayer followed by a breakfast of coffee or tea, and Arabic sweets and biscuits. In the early morning – around 6.30am – everyone dresses and heads over to the mosque to attend the special Eid prayers. This is a wonderful time as it unites Muslims in their celebrations, and its not uncommon to see children walking around with bags of sweets and distributing candy to all the attendees.
Gift sharing on Eid
After prayers, everyone heads home to spend time together ahead of the special Eid lunch. One of the most important aspects of Eid – for the little ones at least – is the receiving of ‘Eidi’, which is a monetary gift. Young children usually line up in front of each adult family member, and receive their cash gifts. Other families pass out gift bags with some money, sweets and toys.
Eidi tends to not last for very long, as once the kids have their loot, they venture out to their nearest shop to buy some treats. In the smaller villages where there are more neighborhood shops, they can get more for their money thanks to the shopkeepers taking part in the Eid celebrations by giving out special gifts along with every purchase.
The act of giving to the less fortunate is immensely important during Ramadan, but it shouldn’t be neglected once the holy month is over. During Eid, it’s common for those who are well off to buy food staples – such as rice, ghee, oil, sugar…etc. – in bulk and leave them anonymously at the doors of those in need. Other residents would cook large quantities of food and host a free table outside their house so that no one goes without a meal.
Delicious Eid Food
Nothing beats a wonderful Eid lunch, and traditionally families enjoy meat dishes, such as slow cooked lamb or grilled kebabs for instance. Biryani is also a very popular choice.
Some households organize a dish party where every attendee brings an appetizer, main course or dessert and then everyone mixes and matches.
The majority of outings tend to take place in the evening – and even more so these years thanks to Eid al-Fitr arriving during the hot summer months. GCC residents love a good fireworks show, so you’ll never be void of options in the region.
Meanwhile, some cities – such as Doha and Dubai for instance – host special Eid concerts, featuring some of the biggest names in Arab music, including Nancy Ajram, Hussein al-Jasmi and Mohammed Assaf.
Whether it’s your first Eid in the region, or you’ve always celebrated here, the Muslim community will agree that it’s important to get into the spirit and enjoy what you have. Eid Mubarak!