Everything you need to know about Eid Al Fitr in Saudi Arabia
4 June 2018| Last updated on 4 June 2018
The Holy Month of Ramadan is almost over, and with it Eid Al Fitr is almost upon us again. Astronomers have announced that Eid Al Fitr 2018 is most likely to occur on, or around June 15th, 2018.
Eid Al Fitr 2018 will mark the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal – the next month in the Islamic calendar.
When is Eid Al Fitr 2018? When does Ramadan end this year?
Officials have predicted that the first day of Eid Al Fitr will most likely occur on or around June 15th, 2018. This can still change depending on the moon sighting closer to the time.
If the date has been predicted correctly, then the last day of the Holy Month of Ramadan will be observed on June 14th, 2018. Ramadan began on Thursday 17th May this year, which means that Muslims will be fasting for only 29 days this year.
These are important dates for you to jot down:
- When will Ramadan 2018 end? The Holy Month began on May 17th, and is expected to end on or around June 14th, 2018
- When is Eid al-Fitr? On or around Friday 15th June, to Sunday 17th June, 2018
- When is Eid al-Adha? On or around Tuesday 21st August, to Friday 24th August, 2018
What is Eid Al Fitr? Why do Muslims observe Eid Al Fitr?
Eid Al Fitr, also known as the lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday in the Islamic religion. The literal translation is “festival of breaking the fast” and Eid Al Fitr is exactly that – a celebration that the Holy Month of fasting, Ramadan, has come to an end.
The month-long fast during Ramadan is to celebrate the month during which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). There aren’t any historical or links to Eid Al Fitr but over time this has become a time to focus on your family and community.
The first day of Eid Al Fitr is lways on the first day of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan in the Islamic calendar but always on a different date in the more commonly used Gregorian calendar. The reason for this is that Islam follows a lunar calendar which consists only of 354 days.
How is Eid Al Fitr celebrated in Saudi Arabia?
On the first day of Eid, Muslims will perform a ritual cleansing of the body known as “Ghusl” in the morning, dress in new or their finest clothes and go to a large outdoor locations or mosques to offer a special Eid prayer - the Salat al-Eid. This consists of a sermon, followed by a short congregational prayer. The Salat al-Eid may only be performed in congregation - also known as 'jama'at.'
After the morning gathering, families will visit other family members or friends and enjoy breakfast – their first daytime meal in a month.
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Continuing in the spirit of giving from Ramadan, gifts are often exchanged during Eid Al Fitr. Food is also given to the poor and the focus for the time shifts to spending time with our loved ones.
During Eid Al Fitr Muslims also acknowledge their accomplishments throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan.
What kinds of gifts and foods are given during Eid Al Fitr?
Families often exchange gifts during this season, with children receiving money from family members. Muslims will also wear their best attire, whether traditional or Western which is often times newly bought for this special occasion. In fact, they may give one another new clothes in order to help everyone look their best for this important festival.
Other traditional Eid Al Fitr gifts include date-filled pastries, butter cookies with almonds or pine nuts, and spice cake. More common Eid Al Fitr gifts include:
- Dates: a healthy food, commonly eaten at this time of year.
- Oudh and Bakhoor: an expensive fragrance oil that is a good alternative to candles.
- Pasmina shawls: these silky-soft fabrics make for a lovely Eid gift for women.
- Arabic coffee pot: called 'dallah' these can be used for serving or decoration.
- Spices: these are often used while cooking to make delicious traditional dishes and will always be appreciated.
- A book: The Quran says in Surah Al-'Alaq 96:1-5: “Read! In the name of your Lord who created - Created the human from something which clings. Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful - He who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught the human that which he knew not…”
How many days does Eid Al Fitr last?
Traditionally Eid Al Fitr is celebrated over 4 days in Saudi Arabia. These are usually declared public holidays in the country (as per the labour law) so that the time can be spent with family and loved ones. The holiday starts on the first day of Shawwal.
This year Eid Al Fitr is expected to be celebrated from Friday evening, June 15th till Tuesday, June 19th.
How can non-Muslims get involved with Eid Al Fitr?
There are plenty of ways for non-Muslims to become involved with, and celebrate Eid Al Fitr with their Muslim friends. Giving to charity, known as ‘Zakat’ in Arabic, is one of the five pillars of Islam and a particularly special way to participate in Eid Al Fitr.
During this time you can also expect to see fireworks, specials at shopping malls and at restaurants. Otherwise call your Muslim friends and ask them if you can share a meal with them. This is an especially special and significant gesture for Saudi nationals to share a meal with them.
What greetings should you use during Eid Al Fitr?
The same way Ramadan has its own greetings, so too does Eid have its own unique greetings to say. Here are some greetings and phrases that you can say to your Muslim friends:
- "Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair." meaning "May every year find you in good health"
- "Eid Mubarak" meaning "Blessed Eid”
- "Eid Saeed" meaning "Happy Eid"
- "Taqabbala Allahu minna wa minkum" meaning "May Allah accept from us, and from you."