Have you seen or heard messages with greetings about Eid and wondered what the holiday is all about? What does it mean? Why and when do Muslims celebrate Eid? How do Muslims observe Eid? Your questions will soon be answered as you discover the beauty of Eid.
What is Eid?
The word “Eid” means festival or feast. It literally depicts the event that is being celebrated. Muslims celebrate two types of Eid every year following two major acts of worship. The first is called “Eid Al-Fitr” which means “the fast-breaking Festival” celebrated after fasting the entire month of Ramadan. The second, known as “Eid-ul-Adha,” means “the festival of sacrifice” and is celebrated immediately upon the completion of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. For every Muslim, Eid is a time of celebration, laughter, togetherness, abundance and sharing. It is always a time to look forward to.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast to purify themselves and get closer to God. Ramadan is like a retreat; a time to step aside all our worldly worries and focus on spirituality and improve our connections with the One who gave us life and all the blessings that we have. After going through a lengthy spiritual retreat for a maximum of 30 days, it is only logical that a feast is held to mark the end of the month. This is what Eid Al-Fitr is all about.
Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by millions of Muslims simultaneously once a year. Through Eid Al-Adha, the sacrifice Abraham was willing to make to God and the mercy God had upon him becomes celebrated and manifested. Muslims celebrate the day by sacrificing a sheep and sharing it not just with family and friends, but also the less privileged.
When is Eid Celebrated?
The celebration of Eid Al-Fitr lasts three days, starting with the sighting of the new moon which marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan and the beginning of the next month.
The celebration of Eid Al-Adha, on the other hand lasts four days, beginning on the day after the completion of Hajj.
The Eid Greeting
Muslims congratulate one another saying “Eid Mubarak” which means “Have a blessed Eid.”
Muslims begin Eid with the observance of the Eid congregational prayer, sometimes in the mosque but usually in an outdoor location. Before going for the Eid prayer, it’s encouraged to take a bath and wear the most befitting clothes and look dignified for the celebration. On the way to the Eid Prayer, Muslims recite in Arabic the words:
Allah is great, Allah is great, Allah is great. There is no other god but Allah. Allah is great, Allah is great. To him belongs all praise.
Celebrate Spiritual Success
Following the Eid prayer, people gather together to have a feast with their families and friends where they get to savour the taste of a variety of dishes. Some even travel to their hometowns or home countries to celebrate with their extended families and rekindle the bond of kinship. There is a rich tradition of gift exchange during Eid. In Africa for example, it is customary to gift new clothes and shoes to children. Sometimes, the children receive money which they use to buy sweets and snacks to enjoy with their friends and cousins. In western countries, children receive gifts instead of money and parents decorate their homes to create a mood of excitement for the family. Eid is meant to celebrate the completion of a spiritual duty, as well as a time to bond and exchange hugs, kisses, and laughter with family, friends and the community.
An Invitation to Feast
For every Muslim, Eid is a time of sharing and expressing love, peace and friendship. Muslims worldwide extend hands to our non-Muslim neighbours and friends as we go about organizing Eid outings and dinners. Why not join your Muslim neighbor or colleague in celebrating the next beautiful Eid? Wouldn’t it be exciting to know what it feels like?