Eid 2020: When does Ramadan end and how do Muslims celebrate the festival?

Sabrina Barr
·3-min read
Thai Muslims release hundred of balloons after a morning prayer marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-fitr (2007): Getty
Thai Muslims release hundred of balloons after a morning prayer marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-fitr (2007): Getty

This year, the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr begins on the evening of Saturday 23 May.

The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and deep reflection.

Translated from Arabic as “the feast of the breaking of the fast”, Muslims observe the religious holiday by taking part in traditions such as holding prayer services and donating money to charity.

Here’s everything you need to know about Eid al-Fitr:

What is Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fir follows Ramadan, the Islamic holy month which sees Muslims fast during daylight hours.

Ramadan commemorates the Quran first being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Eid al-Fitr marks an end to the solemn period of reassessment that is Ramadan.

When is the festival?

Ramadan lasts between 29 and 30 days, depending on when a new moon is sighted by local religious authorities.

The sighting of the new moon means that Eid al-Fitr can commence.

Precisely when followers choose to observe it varies because there is some discussion within the faith about whether the moon must be spotted with the naked eye and whether it needs to be seen in the country where the celebrations are happening.

The date of Eid al-Fitr depends on the lunar calendar, which is why it falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar on an annual basis.

This year, Eid al-Fitr takes place from the evening of Saturday 23 May until the evening of Sunday 24 May.

The festival is a day when Muslims thank god, known as Allah in Arabic, for strength and blessings, hoping the commemoration of Ramadan has brought them closer to god.

It was first celebrated by Muhammad in 624CE following a victory in battle.

How is it celebrated?

Several traditions are observed on Eid al-Fitr, one of which involves the reciting of a certain set of prayers especially for the occasion called Salat al-Eid.

Muslims will generally gather at mosques or in open-air locations such as parks to recite the prayers on the first morning of the festival.

They will then sit down with their family and friends for breakfast, their first daylight meal following a month of fasting.

However, this year traditional celebration practises may have significantly adapted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Traditionally, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated for three days and is a national holiday in Muslim countries.

In the UK, Muslims tend to celebrate the festival for a day and may take time off work or school for the occasion.

Another important tradition is Zakat al-Fitr – the act of giving charity to the poor at the end of Ramadan.

In 2016, it was estimated that British Muslims gave on average £371 each to charity during Ramadan.

What’s the difference between Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha?

Eid al-Adha takes place later on in the year, and is considered a holier observance than Eid al-Fitr.

It takes place on the 10th day of the final month of the Islamic calendar, and involves Muslims from around the world travelling the Mecca for pilgrimage.

This year, Eid al-Adha takes place from the evening of Thursday 30 July to Monday 3 August.

It is known as the “sacrifice feast”, and honours the prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael, an act of submission under the order of Allah.

How to wish someone a happy Eid

The phrase commonly used by Muslims to wish someone a happy Eid is “Eid Mubarak”, which translates to “Blessed Eid” in Arabic.

Read more

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