Eid al-Fitr: Lesser-known Facts About the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’

Things you probably didn’t know about Eid

Eid al-Fitr

Every year, Muslims from around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is one of the most crucial days in the Islamic calendar that is observed on the first of the Islamic month of Shawwal. Translating from Arabic as “festival of breaking the fast,” this joyous three-day celebration recalls the revelation of the sacred Quran to Prophet Muhammad. Throughout Ramadan, Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking and other sinful activities between sunrise and sunset.

While more than 1 billion Muslims celebrate Eid, there are a few things that people probably don’t know about it. Here, we have listed eight lesser-known facts about this festival.

1. The date of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr always varies.

Eid al-Fitr doesn’t begin until the new moon is sighted in the sky after a month of fasting. So technically, the festival starts at different times and even different days across the world. As there are variations in the time, many Muslims celebrate it when the new moon appears over Mecca instead of their locations. This year, Eid will be celebrated on either the evening of Thursday 14 June or Friday 15 June.

2. The day is dedicated to rejoicing in having delicacies on the table.

Translating to: “The festival of breaking of the fast,” food plays a vital role in Eid al-Fitr. After days of refraining themselves from food during daylight hours for a complete month, Muslims are overwhelmed when the time comes to break their fasting ritual. After morning prayers, they enjoy a small breakfast, and then, visit their relatives and friends for lunch where lavish banquets are served. In Karachi and Pakistan, Eid is celebrated with indulgent desserts like fluffy pineapple cake, while in the Middle East, pastries, such as Ma'amoul (shortbread filled with dates), pistachios or walnuts are devoured in joyous celebration.

3. It encourages people to forgive and forget differences.

While the festival marks the ending of one-month-long fasting, it is also a time for devoting oneself to prayer and bonding as a community. Muslims pay gratitude to Allah for providing them with the strength to get through Ramadan. Eid encourages them to forgive and forget differences, do self-reflection, undertake peaceful contemplation, and aid those in need. The day starts when people gather at mosques, plazas, and outdoor squares to perform Eid prayers. After that, they wish each other a prosperous and peaceful ‘Eid Mubarak,’ and then share the food with everyone.

4. On Eid, people remember their loved ones who have passed away.

While Eid is a time to reflect spiritually, build communally, and make harmony, it is a day to remember the loved ones who are no longer in this world. After the morning prayer, Mohammedans visit the graves of their beloveds, clean the gravesite, and pray to Allah to forgive them and that their souls find peace. It is done to honor the tradition as maintained by Prophet Muhammad who, according to scholars, visited his mother’s grave and broke down into tears while praying for forgiveness for her sins.

5. Muslims cleanse their bodies and wear new clothes on Eid morning.

On early Eid morning, Muslim people wake up to cleanse their bodies in a ritual called “ghusl” before leaving to perform prayers. After that, they don new and fresh clothes. While some people wear contemporary clothes, some opt for traditional clothing. Women decorate their hands with elaborate henna patterns and grab their most beautiful threads to celebrate the festival.

6. It is a time when gifts are handed out to everyone.

Eid is a joyous festival when people shower their loved ones, especially children with gifts. These presents of money, home goods, accessories, and flowers are called ‘Eidi’ which are also exchanged between friends and relatives. Affluent people are expected to pay Zakat al-Fitr, an obligatory charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting which is intended to strengthen bonds within the community and encourage the feelings of brotherhood and love.

7. Eid al-Fitr is also called “The Lesser Eid.”

Eid al-Fitr is one of two significant celebrations in the Islamic faith. The other one is Eid al-Adha which is the “Feast of the Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid.” It is considered the holier of two and honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, as an act of obedience to Allah’s command. Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha is celebrated at different times on the Gregorian calendar every year.

8. It calls for public holidays in many parts of the world.

This holy festival is widely celebrated across the world to build a greater sense of community. It lasts for three days and is a national holiday in Muslim countries. Grand fairs are held in public areas where merchants sell local delicacies and holiday-themed gifts. The celebration continues well into the night when fireworks light up the sky.

These were a few facts that you might not have known about Eid al-Fitr. It is a festival where not only Mohammedans but people belonging to other religions are encouraged to join their Muslim friends in the celebration to foster unity. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog!

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