Today is Eid al-Fitr, which means that it is the end of Ramadan, but also a day of celebration for all Muslims. And since you may not all be super knowledgeable on the subject, we’re going to do a little catch-up session. That way you will finally understand everything about this particular day for many and you will finally know what you are talking about when you wish your friends a good Eid.
1. More than a billion Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr
Eid al-Fitr is very celebrated around the world. We can even say that it is one of the biggest annual world events. So, whether or not you feel concerned by religion in general, it’s still not bad to know what this “little” party is.
2. Eid al-Fitr means “breakup party”
There are two Eids in Islam: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (we’ll talk about them just below). Eid al-Fitr is the breaking of the fast. This means that it is the day when we officially stop practicing the Ramadan fast and when we celebrate the entry into the tenth month of the calendar. Simply.
3. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha should not be confused
Eid el-Adha (“Festival of Sacrifice” in Arabic) is the biggest festival in Islam. Moreover, it is also called Aïd el-Kebir (“the big party”) in opposition to Aïd as-Seghir (“the little party”), the other name of Eid el-Fitr.
Eid el-Adha, it takes place during the last month of the Hijri calendar, and it celebrates the faith of Abraham. For the little story, in the book of the GenesisGod had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (or Ismail, the eldest of Isaac, in the version of the Koran) on Mount Moriah. Abraham agreed, and at the last moment God interrupted him to tell him that he just wanted to test his faith. Finally, it is a ram that is sacrificed in place of his son, and that is why a sheep is sacrificed during Eid el-Adha. In short, all that to say that it is a different holiday from that of Ramadan.
4. The date of Eid al-Fitr is determined according to the Moon
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri calendar, the Muslim calendar, and this calendar has 12 months which are based on the cycles of the Moon. And as the cycles of the Moon are 29 or 30 days, the Hijri years are 354 or 355 days each, but we are already moving away from our subject.
So, to determine the official end of Ramadan, and therefore the start of Eid al-Fitr, you have to observe the Moon and confirm that you can see the new lunar crescent. In France, it is a religious commission that takes care of it during what is called the “Night of Doubt”. They gather at the Grand Mosque of Paris on the 29th day of Ramadan to observe the Moon with the naked eye, but also with a scientific method, and so they can tell exactly when the holy month ends. Or, if you prefer, when Eid al-Fitr begins.
5. Before celebrating Eid al-Fitr, Muslims make a donation for the poorest
This is called Zakat al-Fitr. Basically, it is the alms given by those who have fasted during Ramadan. It allows the poorest to also be able to celebrate Eid al-Fitr without having to ask for money. In France, the amount of Zakat is fixed by the Great Mosque of Paris, and it is 7 euros per person (the equivalent of a meal). To donate, there are several platforms that are set up and the money is then donated to the poor. Because yes, partying is cool, but when everyone can party, it’s even better.
6. The day begins with a collective prayer
It is a prayer a little different from the usual daily prayers because it is done collectively with other believers, as it is recommended to do in the Koran. Afterwards, not all Muslims attend, but that’s free for everyone.
7. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with family and loved ones
It is often a day when we are with family, where we can take stock of what the month of Ramadan has brought and where we wish each other the best for the future. Generally, we also make a phone call to relatives who are not there to hear from them. Basically, it’s a super positive moment where we share and get closer to those who matter.
8. Of course, we eat well
Well, it’s a bit of a cliché for breaking the fast, but yes, there’s food. It starts with a big meal with lots of traditional dishes, and of course a lot of pastries. Afterwards, the goal is not to blow your belly without thinking either, but it’s still a party, so inevitably we eat well.
9. Often, we wear a new outfit on the day of Eid al-Fitr
There is no obligation, but when we celebrate Eid, the tradition is that we put on our best clothes or even new clothes to celebrate the party. It can also cause greater crowds in stores the days before Eid. And then we’re not going to hide it, it’s always a pleasure to dress well for special occasions.
10. Children receive pocket money
It’s the tradition on Eid day: when you’re little, parents, uncles and aunts, etc. give you some pocket money. And that is always fun. Until the day when you are the one who has grown up and has to give money to the little ones. It’s always a pleasure, but less to the bank account.
11. (Bonus) To wish a happy Eid day, we say “Aid Mubarak”
Yes, because “Happy Eid Day” means “Happy Eid Day” and it’s a little bit redundant.