What is Eid al-Fitr? Ramadan ends for millions of Muslims around the world

What is Eid al-Fitr? Ramadan ends for millions of Muslims around the world

Millions of Muslims in countries around the world are celebrating the start of Eid al-Fitr today, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Traditionally, people who practice Islam wait for the sighting of a crescent moon to determine when Eid festivities can kick off.

This tends to vary depending on lunar observations in the country you’re in, but many nations, such as the UK and Saudi Arabia, have confirmed April 10 as the date of their Eid celebrations.

Eid al-Fitr is the end of the fasting period in the Muslim religion, and the celebrations include a lot of traditional foods with family members.

Here, we look at the importance of the Islamic holiday and how it is celebrated.

What is Eid?

There are two Eids celebrated each year in the Islamic calendar. First, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. This is celebrated when the first crescent of the new moon is sighted. In 2024, it is likely to fall on April 9. The second Eid, called Eid al-Adha, which is also known as the festival of sacrifice, is marked around two months later, when many Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

Mustafa Field OBE, director of Faiths Forum for London, previously said: “It’s a celebration for the blessings of the holy month as we enter a new month. Ramadan is a very social month but also deeply spiritual as well… many will be reciting the Koran and learning about their faith more deeply. Eid is a time to come together, for celebrating and mixing with people.”

How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated?

The day starts with a morning prayer at a mosque and is followed by family and friends coming together to eat. They often give each other gifts and people dress in smart clothes for the occasion.

“Being able to sit together and have a laugh, sharing good food and embracing each other, carrying different kids and gifting, it’s a really festive period,” Mr Field said. “From toys to new clothes, it’s often parents who will gift kids and they will dress up in nice clothes. People will have events in their gardens now the weather’s a lot better, as well as indoors, and in public places. It’s a joyous time.”

Eid al-Fitr typically lasts around three days.

Does Eid take place at the same time each year?

Similar to Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar, Eid does not fall on the same date every year.

Instead, Eid and the period of Ramadan are both determined by a new moon, as Islam follows the lunar calendar.

In 2024, most Muslims will celebrate the start of Eid on April 10. However, countries like Niger, Nigeria and Mali spotted the crescent moon a day earlier, so started Eid on April 9. Some parts of India will celebrate Eid from April 11, as the crescent moon was not visible.