Eid al-Fitr, (عيد الفطر) is one of the most joyous celebrations in the Islamic calendar. After 29 or 30 days of fasting and other pious acts, Ramadan comes to an end and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr begins and lasts for one to three days. In English this holiday can be translated as the festival of fast-breaking.
According to the Islamic calendar the month after Ramadan is called Shawwal (شوّال) and Eid al-Fitr correlates with the first day of this month. Like Ramadan, the first sighting of the moon is used to determine the beginning of Shawwal. Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad designated the days after Ramadan as a way to celebrate and remember the strength God gave them to fast and practice self control. Additionally, after intense reflection during Ramadan, many Muslims find Eid al-Fitr to be a time to encourage peace and forgiveness in the year ahead.
The first day of Eid al-Fitr starts with the Eid prayer which takes place in large open areas or in a mosque. After the prayer, observers visit family and friends. A common greeting during this time is Eid Mubarak! ( عيد مبارك)
On the first day of Shawwal fasting is forbidden. Before the largest feast of Eid al-Fitr some Muslims will eat a small breakfast. In the first morning of Eid al-Fitr it is traditional to eat a small sweet pastry, often made out of dates. Muslims believe eating a date pastry aligns with what the Prophet Mohammad did during the first Eid. Since a core aspect of Ramadan entails reflecting on the plight of the poor, a few days before the Eid many Muslims will donate food to the poor so they too can prepare and then celebrate the holiday. This important component of the holiday is Sadaqah al-Fitrwhich is also referred to as the charity of fast breaking.
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated in various different ways throughout the Middle East and the Maghreb. Among all Muslims, giving gifts to children is a common custom during this holiday. In some countries children will be given new clothes to wear during the festivities while in countries like Egypt, children are sometimes given money to spend during the holiday. It is also common to receive beautifully decorated gifts of toys and candy. Eid gifts are called Eidi.