What is Eid al-Fitr and how is it being celebrated?

·3-min read

As the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr for the first time without Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic began.

Here, the PA news agency looks 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.

A volunteer prepares to give out fruit baskets to worshippers at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Mordon, south London, ahead of Eid al-Fitr last year
A volunteer prepares to give out fruit baskets to worshippers at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, south London, ahead of Eid al-Fitr last year (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

On Monday, Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan, when Muslims are encouraged to engage in dawn-to-dusk fasting.

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, 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 then followed by family and friends coming together to eat.

Loved ones often give each other gifts and people dress in smart clothes for the occasion.

A volunteer prepares food at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Mordon, south London, ahead of Eid al-Fit in 2021
A volunteer prepares food at the Baitul Futuh Mosque ahead of Eid al-Fitr in 2021 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“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 day every year.

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

– Will Eid return to normal this year?

British Muslims have been forced to observe Covid-19 restrictions during Eid-al-Fitr for the past two years due to the pandemic, placing curbs on the usual festivities including large indoor gatherings.

Worshippers observing social distancing at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, south-west London, on the final day of Ramadan and before the start of Eid al-Fitr celebrations last year
Worshippers observing social distancing at the Baitul Futuh Mosque before the start of Eid al-Fitr celebrations last year (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

However, this year’s holiday marks the first since 2019 to take place without any limits on socialising.

One of Britain’s leading imams, Qari Asim, told PA the event would be “monumental” for Muslims in the UK.

Imam Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams Advisory Board, said: “There will be monumental celebrations on the joyous occasion of Eid this year. Everyone is in high spirits and full of joy as this is the first time in two years that we can come together free of all Covid restrictions.

“Mosques all over the country are expected to be flooded with people. We are excited to partake in the communal Eid prayer, standing together shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Islam without a face mask or other distancing measures in place. It is traditional to hug each other after the Eid prayer, an expression of love that was sorely missed during Eids under restrictions.”

He added: “The past few years have been extremely challenging with the pandemic and various restrictions, so we are really looking forward to holding our family and friends in our arms and saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ – ‘blessed Eid’.”

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