By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Muslim celebration with many rituals and traditions that marks the end of Ramadan.

Eid al-Fitr (Feast of Breaking the Fast) marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. After 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-dusk fasting, Muslims are not allowed to fast on Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr begins on Friday, July 17.

There are many rituals and traditions which help celebrate Eid al-Fitr.  Muslims wake before dawn and clean their teeth with either a toothbrush or a cleaning twig known as a miswaak.  Then they bathe, get dressed in new clothing or the best clothing they have available, and apply perfume.

dried fruit for Eid al-Fitr

Next, they eat a breakfast of dates and other sweets to make clear that they are no longer fasting.  Then the families travel on foot to the mosque for prayer.  They greet other Muslims along the way by saying “Eid Mubarak,” which means happiness to everyone.  Before starting the Eid prayer, Muslims pay their Ramadan month alms (required charitable donations to the poor) known as “Zakat al-Fitr,” which can be in the form of money or foods such as dates, raisins or wheat, says The Holiday Spot.

After paying Zakat al-Fitr, adult Muslims offer the Eid-ul-Fitr prayer, which is followed by the sermon (known as Khutbah) to which everybody must listen.  It is prohibited for Muslims to talk or move about during Khutbah. 

Muslim families then gather to celebrate by partaking in their first midday meal in a month.  Children are given gifts and the women clean and decorate their homes and cook a fabulous feast which probably features “Saiwiyan,” which is a popular Eid dish. 

kebab

In America, while elder Muslims follow a more traditional celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the younger generation has added a western twist, reports the New York Times.  In Queens, New York, young Muslim-Americans will “converge on halal burger joints and kebab palaces” for their celebratory feast. 

No matter where or what, Muslim tradition dictates that foods that are too sweet and rich for daily consumption are to be indulged in on this day.  Also, throughout the day (or up to three days) of Eid al-Fitr, Muslims are encouraged to show as much happiness and perform as many charitable acts as possible.  

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Eid Al-fitr as an official school holiday.

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