Today, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid el-Fitr, a festival that marks the end of Ramadan.
Here’s what you need to know about the holiday:
1. IT IS HELD TO CELEBRATE THE END OF FASTING
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup to sundown to honour the month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Eid el-Fitr celebrates the end of the month and the end of the fasting.
2. THE NAME OF THE HOLIDAY IS A LITERAL TRANSLATION
“Eid el-Fitr” is a pretty literal translation of the event that’s being celebrated: “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast,” or “the Feast of Fast-Breaking.”
3. EID EL-FITR BEGINS WHEN THE NEW MOON IS FIRST SIGHTED
Eid el-Fitr doesn’t begin until the new moon appears in the sky (although traditionally, and still today for many Muslims, it doesn’t begin until the barest sliver of a waxing crescent moon is seen). Technically, that means that across the world, Eid el-Fitr starts at different times and even different days, depending on location. To make it more uniform, some Muslims celebrate Eid when the new moon appears over Mecca instead of their own locations.
4. RAMADAN AND EID EL-FITR ARE HELD ON DIFFERENT DATES EVERY YEAR
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the solar cycle. New months start and end with each new moon. The average new moon appears every 29.53 days, so the lunar months are a bit shorter compared to the Gregorian months, which usually last 30 or 31 days. Thus, every year, Ramadan is held about 10 days earlier than it was the previous year—at least, that is, in relation to the Gregorian calendar.
5. EID EL-FITR TYPICALLY LASTS FOR THREE DAYS
The festival traditionally lasts for three days, but depending on how it falls on the calendar, the parties and festivities could last much longer. For example, if the three days fall mid-week, Muslims will likely still be celebrating over the weekend.
6. ON EID MORNING, MUSLIMS CLEANSE THEIR BODIES AND DON NEW CLOTHES
Similar to getting new clothes for Easter Sunday, Muslims often do something new or grab their finest threads and decorate their hands with elaborate henna patterns. Some people wear traditional dress, while others opt for contemporary clothing.
7. THERE ARE EID GREETINGS
“Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Eid!,” is pretty common.
8. THERE ARE PRAYERS
After getting dressed and ready for the day, Muslims gather for prayers in mosques or outdoor locations.
9. THERE ARE GIFTS INVOLVED
After a month of sacrifice, Eid al-Fitr is a time of abundance and not just abundant food. Gifts are often given, especially to children. These gifts of money, accessories, home goods, or flower are called “Eidi.”
10. IT’S ALSO KNOWN AS “THE LESSER EID
Eid al-Fitr is one of two important Eid celebrations in the Muslim faith. The other is Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice or “Greater Eid.” Eid al-Adha celebrates the sacrifice Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to make to Allah.
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