As Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr

A Muslim girl looks on as elders offer prayers during Eid al-Fitr in Allahabad, India
A Muslim girl looks on as elders offer prayers during Eid al-Fitr in Allahabad, India Copyright Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
Copyright Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
By Elise Morton with AP
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When is Eid al-Fitr and how do Muslims – both in Europe and further afield – celebrate the Islamic holiday?


Muslims around the world will shortly mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. 

After a month of fasting from dawn to sunset – as well as greater focus on worship, charity, and good deeds – Eid al-Fitr literally means the feast, or festival, of breaking the fast.

Often referred to simply as ‘Eid’ (though this can also refer to the separate holiday Eid al-Adha), Eid al-Fitr begins with congregational prayers to show appreciation to God, followed by festivities that often include family visits, gatherings (with lots of food) and new clothes.

When is Eid al-Fitr?

The date of Eid changes every year because Islam follows a lunar calendar. 

The first day of the usually three-day holiday is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon marking the start of the month of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.

As a new moon was not sighted on Monday evening after Maghrib prayers (prayed at sunset), Muslims in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries will celebrate the first day of Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday (April 10).

The date can vary among countries and Muslim communities, however. In many Muslim-majority countries, the sighting of the new moon will be announced on TV, radio and at mosques.

How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated?

Muslims typically congregate at their local mosque in the early hours of the first day of Eid al-Fitr to perform the Eid prayer, having paid the obligatory charitable donation of food to the poor known as Zakat al-Fitr. Sometimes these prayers can take place in large outdoor spaces, to accommodate the large numbers of attendees.

After fasting during Ramadan, food is central to the Eid celebration. On Eid morning it’s common to dress up in new clothes, indulge in a rich breakfast and then continue to gather with friends and family throughout the day – with food at each stop.

Eid al-Fitr has even been dubbed the Sugar Feast, because of the many sweet treats often enjoyed during the holiday – these vary around the world, but favourites include baklava in the Middle East and Turkey, saviya (sweet vermicelli) in southeast Asia and date-stuffed kahk cookies in Egypt.

Giving gifts is also on the cards, usually accompanied by the Eid greeting “Eid Mubarak”, which is Arabic for "Blessed Eid".

Eid al-Fitr in Europe

Muslims are a relatively small minority in Europe, making up roughly 5% of the population - but Islam is the second-largest religion in Europe after Christianity.

In Eastern Europe there are several countries with a Muslim majority, including Kosovo (96%), Albania (85%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (55%).

It’s expected that faithful will gather on Wednesday morning in Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square to pray and hear an Eid sermon by the Mufti of Tirana, Gazment Teqja. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, head Imam Husein Kavazovic usually leads prayers at the Sarajevo’s majestic Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.

Celebrations will take place throughout the continent, including the annual ‘Eid in the Square’ party on Saturday on London’s Trafalgar Square, and a festive community lunch at the Grand Mosque in Paris after prayers on Wednesday (10 April).

As in the rest of the world, the Israel-Hamas war will cast a dark shadow over Muslims celebrating in Europe. This year, Eid comes soon after the war reached its six-month anniversary. During Ramadan, advocacy, prayers and charity for Palestinians in Gaza were high on the minds of many.

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