16 May 2022

What do Eid al-Fitr celebrations look – and taste – like for Muslims around the world?

What do Eid al-Fitr celebrations look – and taste – like for Muslims around the world?

Marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is a time for jubilation.

After a month of fasting and devotion to Allah, Eid is a beautiful celebration of faith and family.

And with over 1.8 billion Muslims all over the world, there are lots of different ways to celebrate – and families and communities bring different traditions to the table.

Food, glorious food

According to Pakistani writer Anmol Irfan, “Eid is categorised by food. Sheer khurma (a sweet milk pudding with vermicelli and nuts) usually starts off breakfast” – followed by “a day of gorging on food wherever we go”.

Eid food traditions vary all over the world. In Lebanon and Syria, a favourite treat is maamoul – a shortbread-type cookie stuffed with dates, with similar variations enjoyed in Iraq, Egypt and Sudan.

Stews are popular in many households, with some in North Africa opting for a fruit and meat tagine cooked in a clay pot.

Sweets are not to be missed at Eid. From lokum – Turkish delight – to tufahije, a Bosnian poached apple and walnut treat, there are plenty of indulgent sugary treats to enjoy after Ramadan.

In Indonesia, lapis legit is a popular layer cake, made with spices like cardamom and cloves. In Yemen many may enjoy Aseeda – a wheat and honey jelly-like dessert.

Giving gifts to loved ones

To mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims will often give gifts to one another.

“Growing up, the best part of Eid al-Fitr was getting Eidi,” Irfan remembers. “As a small monetary gift given by elders to youngsters, Eidi was really a way for us to make cash, and we would excitedly count and save up whatever Eidi we got.”

Giving money is a tradition for many Muslims all over the world – in Malaysia, for example, Eidi is known as duit raya or ‘green money packets’. These green envelopes containing money are given to guests who visit your home, and is possibly thought to stem from the Chinese red envelope tradition (where money is gifted during holidays and special occasions).

Spending time with the people you love

“Eid is a time for family, food and joy. I have a big extended family, and we all get together at one of my great-uncle’s houses to have a big Eid dinner, as well as visiting other relatives and friends during the day,” says Irfan.

Coming together with friends and family is particularly poignant this year. The pandemic left many families unable to be together for iftar during Ramadan (the evening meal where you break the fast) or for Eid over the past two years, but restrictions across the world are much more relaxed now.

For Irfan, this Eid is a first. “I’ve just moved to a city away from my family after getting married, so this will be my first Eid with my husband and in-laws,” she says. “I can’t wait to see what new traditions it brings to my life.”

Taking time to reflect on your faith

Medical student and writer Zesha Saleem says: “Eid usually starts with the Eid prayer at my local mosque. It’s like a big celebration of getting through Ramadan – there are loads of food stalls, we meet with friends and family, and dress up.”

Many Muslims see Eid as an important time to reinvigorate their faith after 30 days of dedication over Ramadan. Irfan shares: “Growing up in Pakistan, Eid has always been a huge celebration. As someone who’s quite religious, I’ve always enjoyed the time for contemplation and prayer that Ramadan brings, as work and other activities in life slow down. So in that aspect, Eid feels like a good way to celebrate the experiences of the last month.”

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