Eid al-Fitr: The Festival of Breaking the Fast

The month of Ramadan is the holiest time of the Muslim year. For those who observe it, Ramadan is a time of intense spiritual renewal, when Muslims follow strict rules and participate in pious activities like charity and peacemaking. Perhaps the best-known aspect of Ramadan is fasting; for 30 days, practicing Muslims don’t eat or drink during daylight hours. 

The end of Ramadan, as you might expect, is also a big deal, and it begins with the three-day celebration of Eid al-Fitr—the festival of breaking the fast.

Charity to the poor is an important value in Islam. A few days before the festival, Muslim families give a specific donation to the needy to ensure every Muslim can have a hearty meal and celebrate the day fully. 

In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices, and businesses are closed so family, friends, and neighbors can celebrate together. In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.

In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate.

The date of Eid al-Fitr is always the same in the Islamic calendar, but in the Gregorian calendar, it changes from year to year. This year, the festival of breaking the fast began on June 4 and ends today, June 7. Interestingly, Eid al-Fitr doesn’t technically begin until the new moon appears in the sky, which means that across the world, celebrations can start at different times depending on location.

Regardless of timing, however, the intention is the same: to celebrate, to be charitable, and to be together.

As you begin this weekend, think of Eid al-Fitr. Eat together, and try to give something to those who can’t!