Celebrating Eid al-Fitr Around the World
This year, with much of the world still in lockdown, Eid al-Fitr is going to be very different. It will still be a time of joy and celebration but for many of us it won’t be possible to celebrate in the same way as usual, by travelling to see family and friends. Each family creates their own traditions around Eid al-Fitr – some are the same across the world: dressing up in new clothes, sharing favourite meals and exchanging gifts; others vary considerably from one place to the next.
Since we can’t travel at the moment, there’s no better time to take a virtual tour of Eid celebrations around the world, to see what our fellow Muslims do to observe this important festival in different countries.
In Ukraine, there will be special celebrations this year as the President recently announced that from now on Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, will become official state holidays.
This year in many countries, it will, unfortunately, not be possible for Eid prayers to be performed in large congregations. In many countries mosques are closed and as a result an integral part of the Eid celebrations will be missing - albeit for the health and safety of everyone. In Turkey, for example, families would usually wake up very early in the morning, shower, dress up in their best clothes, put on a nice perfume, eat a few dates as per the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the male members of the household would go to the local mosque to listen to the Eid khutbah (sermon), pray collectively and wish each other a ‘Ramazan mübarek olsun’ (Eid Mubarak).
In Indonesia, in small towns and villages, the entire population, men, women and children would meet at the biggest square or park or the biggest mosque for Eid prayer. Women would wear the traditional mukena, a loosely fitted two piece white prayer dress. Men would wear long-sleeved white shirts with raised stiff collars. The thousands of people wearing white clothes creates a white sea - a mesmerising sight. In addition to the white shirt, the traditional Indonesian male attire consists of a traditional hat known as a peci, which has an elliptical shape, sometimes with decoration, and matching pants. The name peci was probably derived from the Dutch word petje which literally means “small hat”, or possibly derived from the Turkish fez. Depending on the region, men would wear a Blangkon or Udeng or some other regional traditional hat instead of the peci. It is called songkok in Malaysia. Malaysians traditionally wear a waist wrap called baju melaju.
In Turkey, Eid al-Fitr is known as ‘Șeker Bayram’ which translates as the ‘feast of sugar’ or ‘sweet feast’ highlighting one of the main aspects of the celebration, which is equally significant wherever in the world you travel. After fasting during the month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is a time for savouring sweet treats – especially for children. In Turkey, families enjoy honey-soaked pastries such as baklava, with layers of filo pastry and pistachios, or kadayıf which is bread soaked in syrup.
In Morocco it may be ma’amoul, spiced biscuits stuffed with dates and in Malaysia kuih nenas,which are tasty pineapple cookies. In Iraq and Saudi Arabia you can sample kleichas, rose-flavoured biscuits filled with nuts and dates. Indonesia, however, wins the prize for the most colourful sugary delicacy with its thousand-layer multicoloured rainbow cake called lapis legit.
Even if you’re in lockdown and eating at home with your family, what is on the table for Eid al-Fitr will undoubtedly be the centrepiece of your day. In the UAE, a tasty speciality at this time of year is ouzi, a pastry stuffed with spiced goat meat, mixed with rice and pine nuts. In Turkey, you may well be eating traditional dishes such as hünkar beğendi, a lamb and aubergine dish which originated in Ottoman times, stuffed peppers, or chicken with rice. In Malaysia you might be eating rendang, which is spicy stewed meat, lontong, which is vegetarian coconut curry with cubed rice or even a whole barbecued lamb. In Morocco it is traditional to eat couscous at Eid al-Fitr.
Sharing at Eid al-Fitr
In Malaysia, Eid al-Fitr is known as Hari Raya. A central part of the celebrations is a lovely tradition known as ‘open house’. Whether you live in a palace or a more modest dwelling, it is traditional for Muslims to set out an open buffet and open their house to their neighbours to invite them to share the feast. Malaysia is a multicultural society and Eid is a celebration for the whole community when people from different faiths and cultures come together to celebrate and share food.
In Saudi Arabia there is also a tradition of sharing at Eid al-Fitr. Here it is traditional for people to leave rice and other food anonymously outside the homes of those who are less fortunate.
Eid al-Fitr Events
In many countries there are large-scale celebrations which take place during Eid al-Fitr, which will be missed this year. In Indonesia Eid al-Fitr is known as ‘Lebaran’ and in other years the celebrations would see huge crowds on the streets with drums and firecrackers. In other countries, such as the UAE cultural events and shows take place.
Across the world, it is traditional for families to exchange gifts and people to give presents to their loved ones at Eid al-Fitr. In many countries, it is common for children to be given money – in Malaysia this is known as duit raya or ‘green money packets’
Unusual Eid al-Fitr Traditions
Afghanistan has what is probably the most unusual Eid al-Fitr tradition. It is known as Tokhm-Jangi and involves painting hard-boiled eggs and having a contest with them – a bit like a conker fight – where you bump eggs with your opponent and have to try to keep your egg from breaking, whilst trying to break your opponent’s egg.
Once travel restrictions are lifted, HalalBooking can help you plan your international travel, staying in halal-friendly hotels and private villas around the world.
We wish you and your loved ones an Eid Mubarak. May Allah Almighty shower His choicest blessings upon you and your loved ones, and may He grant you the highest level of happiness and joy on this auspicious day.