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What is Eid Ul-Fitr?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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Eid ul-Fitr, or عيد الفطر, is a celebration held by Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan and to thank Allah for the strength he gave them to get through this traditional period of fasting. It lasts three days, and it is sometimes called “Lesser Eid” to contrast it with Aid ul-Adha, or “Greater Eid,” another major holiday for Muslims. The holiday is a time for fellowship, socialization, and good wishes, and it is celebrated with a variety of local traditions all over the world. Visitors to nations with large Muslim populations are often caught up in the celebrations, with shouts of Eid mubarak, meaning “blessed Eid,” ringing in the streets.

Ramadan is a very serious time for Muslims, taking place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Celebrants fast during the day and pray frequently, meditating upon the nature of faith and Allah. It is traditional to make gifts of alms and food to the poor during the month, and to abstain from sins. This period of time can be very challenging, as it requires self-sacrifice and personal discipline. Ramadan officially ends when the crescent moon of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar is sighted.

In Arabic, Eid means “festival,” and Fitr means “breaking the fast,” so Eid ul-Fitr is literally a festival for breaking the fast. After the intense religious introspection and fasting of Ramadan, Muslims take Eid as an opportunity to have fun, celebrate their faith, and enjoy the company of friends and family. The festival may also get quite chaotic, with fireworks, and distributions of presents to friends and neighbors, along with music and dancing.

For the celebration, families cleanse themselves in the morning, eat a small meal, and then attend prayer at a mosque. By tradition, celebrants offer alms to the mosque for distribution to the poor before the start of Eid prayers; these alms are known as Zakat ul-Fitr. After prayer and a sermon, the festivities begin, with celebrants typically visiting each other in their finest clothes to exchange gifts and commemorate friendship. Eid is also a traditional time for forgiveness and reconciliations.

Since Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, feasting is an important part of this Muslim holiday. There are no universally traditional Eid foods, but the holiday typically includes rich foods that may not have been eaten during Ramadan, along with elaborate regional or family recipes. Invitations to parties and dinners are common, and people often take the day off from work to spend time celebrating.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a CulturalWorld.org researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Dec 18, 2012
My favorite part of Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday is staying home! I haven't been able to do that since I started working though. I could get an excuse from my boss, but I feel weird being the only one off. Sometimes Eid ends up being on the weekend and that works out great.
By bluedolphin — On Dec 17, 2012
I have such lovely childhood memories about Eid. We used to go from house to house to visit family and friends. At every house they would offer sweets and get upset if you don't eat it. I used to eat so much sweets in those three days.
By stoneMason — On Dec 16, 2012
I think the confusion about Eid ul Fitr activities has to do with the differences between religious rules, examples and tradition.

So the activities that some Muslims do during Eid ul Fitr in some countries might be different from what Muslims do in another country. And people might claim that what the other is doing is wrong.

I think rather than getting caught up on these details, it's much better to ponder on the meaning of the holiday. This is the time for celebration and gratefulness because people have been able to see another Ramadan and fulfill their responsibilities. It is the time to be with families, help others and rest.

Let's not get caught up on details. These types of differences exist with many holidays. Not every family celebrates Christmas the same way either.

By anon227759 — On Nov 06, 2011

Excuse me. I'm muslim and what are you people saying is wrong. We listen to music, we dance and we do everything. Don't get wrong ideas in your minds about islam, and especially in eid ul fitr we listen to music and dancing, Especially in that day because in here tunisia in eid ul fitr, we give money to our children we take them to beautiful places and we have fun together. Islam is a very lovely religion so don't have a wrong idea about it.

By anon149936 — On Feb 06, 2011

Islam is the name of Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad forbids the music and dance. Muslim scholars of early age have Ijmaa, or consensus on this issue.

By anon131662 — On Dec 03, 2010

you people need to take a good around you. There is no harm in having fun in your own home.

By anon110204 — On Sep 11, 2010

The first comment in this discussion is untrue. Certain Muslims may choose to avoid music and dance, but there is nowhere in the Holy Qur'an where these expressions of human spirit are rejected. What is disallowed are actions which may lead to temptation and haram (forbidden) acts.

For example, "grinding" on a club floor may lead to sexual exploitation and sexual infidelity — however, singing traditional Eid songs and moderate dancing is a glorification of God and is not prohibited. Our disagreement is a key instance of the mutable boundary between culture and religion. In any case, Eid Mubarak! Only God can judge.

By anon44373 — On Sep 07, 2009

There's no music and dancing upon eid. Dancing and music is forbidden in islam

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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