How Is Eid Al-Fitr Celebrated in Islam?

Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan
Dondi Tawatao/Stringer/Getty Images News

During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and participate in pious activities such as charitable giving and peace-making. It is a time of intense spiritual renewal for those who observe it. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). It is observed by most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims, making Eid Al-Fitr one of the biggest of all religious holidays.


Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan in ​the Islamic calendar. Because the month of Ramadan shift forward each year when viewed from the Gregorian calendar so, too, does Eid al-Fitr. Each year, Eid al-Fitr is falls about 11 days earlier than the previous year. 

Some scholars believe that the first Eid al-Fitr is thought to have been celebrated in the year 624 CE by the Prophet Mohammad and companions after a decisive victory at the battle of Jang-e-Badar, but the celebration itself is not directly linked to any specific historical events. 

The Meaning of Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr is a time for Muslims to give in charity to those in need, and to celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy. Unlike other Islamic holidays, Eid al-Fitr is not tied to specific historical events but is a general celebration of fellowship with one's local community.

In contrast to the devoted calm of the rest of the Ramadan observance, Eid al-Fitr is marked by joyful happiness at having been released from religious obligation and forgiven for sins. Once the celebration begins, it may continue for up to three days. This is a time for Muslim families to share their recognized good fortune with others.


How Eid al-Fitr Is Observed

Before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramadan, each Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is of actual food—rice, barley, dates, rice, etc.—to ensure that the needy are able to enjoy a nourishing holiday meal and participate in the celebration. This donation is known as sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

The family may string up string lights, or place candles or lanterns around the house. Color banners are sometimes hung. Family members may give one another new clothing in order that everyone may look their best, and special foods, especially sweet treats, may be served. 

On the day of Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning in outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer. This consists of a sermon followed by a short congregational prayer. After the Eid prayer, Muslims usually scatter to visit various family and friends, give gifts (especially to children), and make phone calls to distant relatives to give well-wishes for the holiday. These activities traditionally continue for three days. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.

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Huda. "How Is Eid Al-Fitr Celebrated in Islam?" ThoughtCo, Jan. 9, 2018, Huda. (2018, January 9). How Is Eid Al-Fitr Celebrated in Islam? Retrieved from Huda. "How Is Eid Al-Fitr Celebrated in Islam?" ThoughtCo. (accessed January 16, 2018).