TUESDAY, AUGUST 30: It’s official! The big feast with family and friends is coming this week! The Islamic Society of North America and the Fiqh Council of North America—two groups representing most Muslim centers across the U.S.—have calculated upcoming moon sightings to place the Eid al Fitr on the morning of Tuesday, August 30, 2011. This kind of declaration is important, because the Muslim calendar is based on lunar cycles and continues to “move earlier” each year, when compared to the international standard calendar.
Many Muslims adjust their personal fasting schedules to coincide with family members in other countries or to include extra days of fasting for various reasons. The result is that many larger Muslim centers, especially those that serve an ethnically diverse population, may have a couple of mornings set aside for the festive Eid prayers. In some Muslim cultures around the world, the Eid may run on for several days!
Typically, at mosques and Muslim centers, big crowds show up for early end-of-Ramadan prayers, wearing dressy clothes—much like Christian families dress up for Easter morning. Often, huge trays of elaborate pastries are served. Sometimes, children are given gift bags of candy or other goodies. Then, the entire Eid period—whether one day or several—becomes a relaxed time for visiting and family dinners. Many Muslim professionals have scheduled vacation time to enjoy the festival.
Spellings vary: In Arabic, the words Eid al Fitr mean “festival” or “celebration” of “breaking” the fast. But, you’ll find that Arabic phrase rendered in various English spellings, including Eid al Fitr and Eid ul-Fitr.
Don’t overeat, warns Gulf News: Much like American news media warning about overeating at Thanksgiving, the Gulf News just published a story warning Muslim families not to overdo it during the Eid.
Huge holiday migrations in Asia: Because Asian countries now depend on workers living most of the year near industrial centers, major annual holidays become periods of massive migration back to hometowns. Sin Chew Daily, a newspaper serving Malaysia and nearby countries, now is reporting on the millions of people on the move in Indonesia. In other parts of the Muslim world, business districts are humming already with families stocking up for the coming feast. Some countries plan to change traffic patterns on major roads for the Eid as crowds make their way to and from the most popular mosques.
Just catching up on our Ramadan coverage? The last major holiday related to Ramadan was the Night of Power or Laylat al Qadr.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.