Eid al-Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast” and is celebrated over a three-day period.
Eid participants begin celebrations by eating something sweet, usually dates, before heading to prayer services. Most will spend the rest of the day with loved ones enjoying family feasts and making charitable donations for those less well off. The act of making donations is known as Zakat al-Fitr.
The holiday does not occur on a fixed date but is determined by the sighting of the new moon. The start of Eid varies from country to country. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, for example, started Eid on Tuesday. Egypt, Syria, Jordan and others won’t start until Wednesday.
Eid celebrations vary from country to country as well.
In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. Muslims in the U.S. or Europe request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.
In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate.
In the UAE, traditional Emirati dishes like Harees (a porridge of whole wheat and meat) and Balaleet (sweet vermicelli noodles topped with an omelet or fried egg) are served for breakfast Extended family members gather at a senior’s house for lunch.
In Malaysia Eid is known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Malaysians travel back to their homes to seek forgiveness and to pray with elders, parents, and in-laws.
Muslims in several countries, participants visit gravesites to pay respect to loved ones who have departed.