Eid al-Fitr (“Breaking of the Fast”) is a Muslim three-day holiday, signifying the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which the Qur’an was revealed. In this month, it is obligatory for all able Muslims to partake in a month-long fast where they are to abstain from food and drink (yes, even water!) during daylight hours. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with a declaration of faith, five daily prayers, giving to charity and a pilgrimage to Mecca. The holy month is also used as an opportunity to build one’s spirituality. At night, Muslims line up to offer a number of optional prayers called “Taraweeh” while listening to and reflecting on the recitation of the Qur’an.
It is worth noting that there are two Eids in the Muslim calendar: Eid al-Fitr following the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha (“Feast of Sacrifice”), a holier celebration commemorating the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in an act of obedience to God. Eid al-Adha is during the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
Eid al-Fitr is marked by the first sighting of the new moon, and since it is based on a lunar calendar, the date of this festival changes every year drifting earlier each year. It is a time for Muslims and their families to come together and commemorate the completion of the month-long fast with a seemingly overabundance of food.
On the morning of the first day of Eid, prayers are held in mosques and large event halls. These prayers are followed by a sermon. Typically, you will find Muslims are in their best clothes, be it traditional clothing from their respective cultures or western clothes. It is a time to spend time with friends and family and exchange gifts (this is especially anticipated among the children). It is tradition to visit elder family members, as well as the graves of our ancestors during Eid al-Fitr.
Nonetheless, the gathering of Muslims for the prayer of Eid al-Fitr can be seen as a graduation from the challenging month. As you can probably imagine, aside of the daily responsibilities, the month-long fast, in addition to offering Taraweeh prayers, it can become exhausting by the 28th night.
During this holiday, you may hear the words “Eid Mubarak” often. The word “Eid” means celebration and “Mubarak” means blessed. This is synonymous with saying “have a blessed holiday.” Therefore, let us greet our Muslim friends with a warm “Eid Mubarak” during this well-deserved celebration.
~Maher Lawand, Texas A&M ’22