Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the two major festivals in the Muslim calendar, with Eid meaning festivities and Fitr meaning the breaking of a fast. The word is derived from Arabic and refers to the two- to three-day celebrations that follow the month of fasting—Ramadan—after the moon’s sighting. Muslims across the world celebrate the occasion following their unique traditions. So, if you want to know how Eid is celebrated around the world, you’re at the right place. Here’s a detailed compilation of Eid celebrations around the world!
Eid Celebrations Around the World
The festival of Eid usually means wearing new clothes, eating delicious food, exchanging gifts, and attending family gatherings, where both young and old rejoice while also thanking Allah for His blessings. Let’s now discuss some Eid traditions around the world in detail that differ by region but encompass the same feelings of joy across the globe.
Let’s begin our overview of Eid traditions around the world with our home, Pakistan. Preparations for Eid in Pakistan begin in Ramadan’s last week, with most families cleaning their homes thoroughly and often decorating them for the upcoming festival. People buy and wear new clothes, and the night before Eid, called Chand Raat, is when people flock to the markets to buy last-minute accessories. Women line up outside salons or go to each other’s homes on Chand Raat to apply Henna or Mehndi on their hands, which is like a temporary tattoo. Wearing colourful glass bangles is also common for women on Eid day.
The day begins with prayers for men in the mosques, often in large open grounds, so that a maximum number of worshippers can attend the prayers together. After meeting one another, once the prayers are over, people head home and visit relatives and friends with their loved ones. The first day is usually dedicated to close family relatives, with the elders giving Eidi—a monetary gift—to young ones in the family.
People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” which is usually followed by an embrace. It is also customary in many homes to greet elder relatives by kissing their right hand as a sign of respect. In return, elders will often bless the children with a quick prayer. Sheer Khurma, a vermicelli pudding, and Biryani, a spicy rice dish, are usually prepared in Pakistani homes. The festival of Eid is a three-day holiday in the country.
The streets are often full of people on the days of Eid, with outdoor rides being set up in neighbourhoods for the kids. There are also many programmes broadcasted on TV, focusing specifically on the celebrations. Many people also choose to head out to malls, parks, or beaches to spend a fun-filled evening with the family.
Known as Lebaran in Indonesia, Eid festivities begin the night before Eid with people indulging in some last-minute shopping, while the crowds are festive with the sounds of drums and firecrackers. People also light torches and carry them through the streets in some parts of the country. As in Pakistan, most people who work in the cities travel back home to their rural towns, which is a tradition called Mudik or homecoming.
Bamboo cooked rice, which is known locally as Lemang, and Lapis Legit, a thousand-layer cake, are two traditional foods cooked for the day. After Eid prayers in the morning, people greet one with the words “Selamat Idul Fitri,” meaning Eid Mubarak or Happy Eid. Muslims also seek one another’s forgiveness on the day of Eid, including their family, friends, and neighbours.
Kids are gifted with colourful envelopes of money by their elders when they visit them. Most Indonesian Muslims wear cultural clothing on Eid day, differing for both men and women in style. Relatives also visit graves of their loved ones during the festival of Eid.
Eid in Malaysia is a joyous occasion like anywhere else, and most people travel to their hometowns to be with their families. People decorate their homes with oil lamps known as Pelita and cook traditional foods for Eid, including Ketupat or rice dumplings, and Rendang, a popular meat dish to honour guests in South East Asian countries. Locally known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, meaning the Celebration Day of Eid-ul-Fitr, it is a day when traditional dresses are worn by all.
Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations have always been like an open house in Malaysia, with everyone being welcomed in every home and an open door festive atmosphere that greets people to enjoy the meals and have a good time, without differentiating between them based on economic status, religion, or caste. Families usually take turns in opening their homes to guests for the day.
Muslims pray, rejoice, and ask for one another’s forgiveness on this day while children receive small monetary gifts from their elders called Duit Raya—their version of Eidi.
Saudi Arabia is the hub of Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations as Muslims from around the world travel to Makkah and Madinah for Umrah during Ramadan, and most choose to stay until Eid before returning home to their loved ones. The locals, however, gather at the home of a family member and celebrate the festivities together over a meal after Eid prayers. Children also receive gifts from the elders in the family, in the form of money or gift bags containing toys and sweets.
Many Muslims also choose to donate to charities and offer gifts to the less privileged during the festival of Eid, often anonymously, so they, too, can celebrate the day with their families. The festive atmosphere is also seen on the streets where every Muslim greets the other without discrimination.
In some parts of Saudi Arabia, people also decorate their homes with welcoming rugs outside their doors and share meals comprising traditional Arabic cuisine with their neighbours and other Muslims.
Called Seker Bayrami or the Festival of Sweets in Turkey, Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations focus around traditional sweet desserts like Baklava and Turkish Delight. All family members and friends are offered a sweet treat on this day when they visit one another after Eid prayers. Most Turkish Muslims will greet elders by kissing their right hand and touching it to their forehead in accordance with cultural and traditional values as a sign of respect.
While Eid celebrations around the world are not a public holiday in Muslim-minority nations, Turkey is among the countries that observe a three-day holiday on the occasion. People wear new clothes, give gifts to loved ones, and visit cemeteries to pay their respects to deceased members of the family.
Children are gifted with money, sweets, and chocolates upon greeting their elders with respect and will often go door-to-door in their neighbourhood to do so. You will also find entertainers in the streets on Eid, performing puppet shows to keep the young ones entertained, as schools are closed for the festival.
While the local Emiratis stick to the traditional way of celebrating Eid by preparing regional cuisine and enjoying meals at the home of a family elder, followed by morning prayers, there is a high percentage of immigrants in the UAE, most of which are unable to head back home for the festival.
Since it is a public holiday and a festive occasion, ex-pats usually gather at a friend’s house with traditional meals prepared from each person’s cultural background and spend the day together in the spirit of Eid. There are also plenty of events and shows hosted in public parks all over the UAE during Eid holidays so that those who do not have family in the UAE are not left alone and can join the community during this joyous festival.
African countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia, South Africa, Nigeria, and several others, celebrate Eid in a similar fashion with prayers in the morning at the local mosques before the grand family get-together, where local foods play a dominant role. In Morocco, traditional dresses are worn by men and women, and Moroccan Pancakes are a breakfast staple, along with their famous mint tea, while in Somalia, Halvo is the dessert of the day.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, cuisine, featuring fish, is the highlight of the celebrations, along with other traditional delicacies like Kahk, which is a nut-filled cookie, often made at home for Eid. Children receive gifts and money from their elders, and many people visit cultural sites, opt for a cruise on the River Nile, or head to seaside resorts for the duration of the holidays after spending a day with the family. Storytellers also roam the streets during Eid, entertaining kids with folktales.
Muslim minorities in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and Europe all celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in a similar fashion, by attending prayers at their local mosques or Islamic centres, before greeting the members of the community. It is important to note that Eid is not a public holiday in these countries, but many Muslims choose to take the day off.
After the prayers, those who have families close by, gather at the home of one relative, where everyone brings one dish cooked from home and representative of their home country. They spend the day together in the spirit of the festival, following traditions and customs from back home. Many Islamic centres and mosques also host fairs or events for people who do not have loved ones in the city but would like to celebrate the event with the community.
While Muslims all over the world take part in Eid prayers on the first day of Eid at a mosque or in their local Islamic centre, cook special meals and sweets for the day, clean their homes, wear new or clean clothes, you can see that Eid traditions around the world differ as per the region or country you’re in.
Of course, it is to be expected that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations for Eid-ul-Fitr 2020 will be a bit less communal and we will all need to keep social distancing in mind as we meet and greet our loved ones. It is highly recommended that you use technological advancements to maintain a distance from your family but still stay in contact with them this Eid, irrespective of where you are residing. Given the current situation, it is best to avoid large gatherings. However, if you do plan on attending small family gatherings, please take all the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones.
So no matter where you are, celebrate the festival of Eid with your loved ones and stay blessed! Eid Mubarak from all of us at Zameen!