This weekend is Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival that comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
For the past four weeks, millions of Muslims have celebrated Ramadan by fasting during the day – known as sawm and considered one of the five pillars of Islam, reading the Quran and performing charities.
Ramadan is now drawing to a close with Shawwal, the following month on the Islamic calendar, starting on the weekend.
The months will officially change Sunday (May 24), as the moon is not spotted Friday night in Saudi Arabia. This means that Ramadan lasts up to 30 days and that Eid al-Fitr starts at sunset on Sundays.
What is Eid Al-Fitr
The Arabic name Eid al-Fitr means ‘festival of breaking the fast’ in English.
It comes immediately after Ramadan, starting at sunset on the last day of the Islamic holy month of Muslims fasting, reading the Quran, and performing acts of charity.
Eid begins as soon as the new moon announcing Shawwal’s arrival is noticed. Some Muslims base their Ramadan and Eid dates on when a moon sighting has been announced in Saudi Arabia, while others are waiting to see for themselves.
This year it is expected to start at sunset on May 23, but may be delayed by 24 hours.
How is Eid celebrated
Traditionally, Muslims gather in mosques in the morning to perform the Eid prayer before continuing on with family gatherings and visits to friends.
To mark the end of the fast, Muslims share feasts and sweets to mark the end of the four-week fast.
Traditional greetings during this time include “Eid Mubarak”, which means “Happy Eid” or “Blessed Eid”, although there are other ways of greeting each other during this time.
Celebrations last up to three days and are used to thank Allah for helping people complete their spiritual fasts and for forgiveness.
Many also donate money and food to the poor.
In Muslim countries, the three days of Eid are given public and school holiday status, although in the UK many employers and schools allow leisure time for Muslim workers and children.