Eid – Understanding Eid: An Overview of the Islamic Festival – 17/Jun/2024

Understanding Eid: An Overview of the Islamic Festival

Eid is a significant religious festival in Islam, celebrated by Muslims across the globe with great fervor and community spirit. The term “Eid” is an Arabic word meaning “festival” or “celebration.” Though there are multiple Eids throughout the Islamic calendar, the term often refers to two major annual festivals: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr: The Festival of Breaking the Fast

Celebrating the End of Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr, which means “the festival of breaking the fast,” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. This celebration occurs on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the Islamic lunar calendar, immediately following Ramadan’s conclusion.

Traditions and Customs

On Eid al-Fitr, it is customary for Muslims to perform a specific communal prayer known as Salat al-Eid and to give special charitable contributions called Zakat al-Fitr. This charity is given prior to the Eid prayers to enable those who are less fortunate to also celebrate the holiday. The day begins with a small breakfast – often including dates – as a symbol of ending the fast before heading out to the prayer gatherings.

After completing the congregational prayers, people usually visit relatives and friends, exchange gifts, and prepare lavish meals. One of the most recognizable aspects of this celebration is the wearing of new or clean clothing as an expression of joy and gratitude.

Significance and Reflection

Eid al-Fitr is not only a festive time but also a period for Muslims to show gratitude to Allah for providing them with the strength to complete their fast and use it as an opportunity to enhance their moral character.

Eid al-Adha: The Festival of Sacrifice

Commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s Devotion

Approximately two months after Eid al-Fitr comes Eid al-Adha, or “the festival of sacrifice.” It honors the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God before God provided a ram to sacrifice instead. It falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, coinciding with the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

Observances and Practices

During Eid al-Adha, it is traditional to sacrifice an animal – typically a sheep, cow, goat, or camel – as a symbol of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The meat from this sacrifice is divided into three parts: one third is given to the poor and needy; another third is shared with relatives, friends, and neighbors; and the remaining third is consumed by one’s own family.

Massive prayer gatherings occur similarly to Eid al-Fitr. Moreover, those who can afford contribute to charity (Sadaqah) generously around this time, supporting entries such as food banks and other humanitarian efforts.

Connecting Communities Internationally

The activities during both Eids may vary culturally but are always grounded in community spirit and generosity. In countries where Muslims are in the majority, Eid holidays involve significant public celebrations including amusement parks,

festivals, and street celebrations. However, in countries where Muslims are minorities, families may gather in community centers or rented halls for congregational prayers followed by community festivities.

Traditional Foods and Dishes

Both Eid celebrations are marked by lavish feasts featuring various traditional foods varying by region. These range from sweet treats like ma’amoul (date-filled pastries) during Eid al-Fitr to heartier offerings like grilled lamb or mutton biryani during Eid al-Adha.


  • Eid al-Fitr dates back to 624 CE when it was first observed by Prophet Muhammad and his companions after winning a major battle.
  • Zakat al-Fitr is often required to be distributed before the Eid prayers; it equates typically to a few kilograms of staple food per individual or its monetary equivalent.
  • Millions of animals are sacrificed worldwide during Eid al-Adha pursuant to specific religious protocols termed ‘dhabiha’.
  • While Eid celebrations are marked by festivity and feasting, they retain deep spiritual significance associated with thankfulness, reflection on oneself, communal unity, and worship.
  • Over 1.8 billion Muslims around the world celebrate Eid. While this number is diverse across various nations, cultures, and traditions, it also cultivates an immense sense of unity amongst adherents on these auspicious days.
  • Despite its religious roots, many countries have recognized Eids as public holidays due to their significant cultural impact and large Muslim populations.
  • Image description: A joyous crowd of people dressed in colorful traditional attire coming out from a mosque after morning prayers on Eid. Some hold prayer rugs under their arms and in the background decoration flags can be seen hanging across streets filled with festival vibes.