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Eid Al-Fitr 2024: Everything You Need To Know About Eid Celebrations, Significance, And Dates

Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha hold profound spiritual significance and cultural importance. As we delve into the traditions and festivities of these joyous occasions, we explore their dates, spiritual significance, and the rich tapestry of rituals and traditions observed by Muslims worldwide.

Eid 2024 Photo: Pexels

Eid al-Fitr, a major festival in Islam, will be celebrated April 9, 2024, as per the Fiqh Council of North America. In mid-June, Muslims will observe Eid al-Adha.

1. What is Eid?

Eid, derived from Arabic, translates to "festival" or "feast." Annually, there are two significant Eids in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr, occurring earlier, and Eid al-Adha, later.

Eid al-Fitr spans three days, earning the moniker "Lesser" or "Smaller Eid" compared to Eid al-Adha, which extends for four days and is referred to as the "Greater Eid."

2. Why is Eid observed twice in a year?

The two Eids commemorate, celebrate and reflect upon two distinct events pivotal to the narrative of Islam.

Eid al-Fitr, meaning "the feast of breaking the fast," marks the culmination of Ramadan, a month-long fast that commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. During this period, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn until sunset.

3. Why Muslims Celebrate Eid On Different Dates?

Muslims celebrate Eid on different dates due to their adherence to the lunar calendar, which is approximately 11 to 12 days shorter than the commonly used Gregorian calendar. The lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon, resulting in a total of 354 or 355 days across 12 months.

Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, typically occurs on the first three days of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Hijri (Islamic lunar calendar). As Muslims fast during Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset, the timing of Eid varies each year.

Following the lunar calendar allows for diverse experiences of Ramadan in different seasons annually. This variability ensures that fasting occurs under various weather conditions, preventing certain regions from consistently enduring hot summers with long days or short winter days. Thus, the lunar calendar provides a chance for Muslims worldwide to experience fasting in diverse seasons.

4. How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated by Muslims?

Eid al-Fitr unfolds over two to three days, which involve special morning prayers. People exchange greetings of "Eid Mubarak," signifying "Blessed Eid," along with formal embraces. Sweet delicacies are prepared at home, and gifts are exchanged, especially to children and those in need. Additionally, Muslims are encouraged to seek forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others, though customs may vary across regions.

In many countries with significant Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is recognized as a national holiday, leading to closures of schools, offices, and businesses, fostering opportunities for families, friends, and neighbors to revel in the festivities together. In the United States and the United Kingdom, Muslims often request time off from school or work to partake in celebrations or reunite with loved ones.

In places such as Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims adorn their homes with lanterns, lights, or flowers, prepare special dishes, and host gatherings for friends and family to commemorate the occasion.

In regions like Jordan, where the majority of the population is Muslim, the days leading up to Eid al-Fitr witness bustling activity at local malls and bustling "Ramadan markets" as people make preparations for exchanging gifts during the festival.

In Turkey and territories formerly under Ottoman-Turkish influence, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Azerbaijan, and the Caucasus, Eid al-Fitr is referred to as the "Lesser Bayram" or "festival" in Turkish.

5. How is Eid al-Adha celebrated by Muslims?

The second festival, Eid al-Adha, also known as the "feast of the sacrifice," occurs following the conclusion of the Hajj pilgrimage, an annual journey undertaken by millions of Muslims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is obligatory once in a lifetime for those who are able.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the narrative of how God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as a test of faith. According to the Quranic account, Ibrahim resisted Satan's temptations and informed Ismail of God's command, to which Ismail willingly complied.

However, as Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son, God intervened, providing a ram as a substitute for Ismail. During Eid al-Adha, Muslims symbolically reenact Ibrahim's act of obedience by sacrificing an animal, reflecting on Ibrahim's sacrifice and reaffirming their commitment to submitting to God's will.

6. When are they observed?

Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar, while Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the final month in the Islamic calendar.

Since the Islamic calendar follows lunar phases, the dates for these festivals on the Gregorian calendar can fluctuate each year due to the discrepancy in the length of the Islamic calendar year compared to the solar Gregorian calendar year.

7. What is the spiritual significance of Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr, occurring after the fasting month of Ramadan, holds spiritual significance as a celebration of Allah's provision of strength and perseverance.

Beyond the reflections and festivities, Eid al-Fitr is a time for charitable acts, known as Zakat al-Fitr. It serves as an opportunity for Muslims to share their blessings and wealth with others in need.

The value of charity to the less fortunate is greatly emphasized in Islam, as highlighted in the Quranic verse:

"Believe in Allah and his messenger, and give charity out of the (substance) that Allah has made you heirs of. For those of you who believe and give charity – for them is a great reward."