As Eid is literally just around the corner, this is the best time to share how other cultures celebrate Eid!
For the Pakistani community, they typically celebrate Eid for three days. In the mornings, before they head to the mosque for prayer, they would normally have something light to eat. Some families make Sawaiyaan, a dish made of vermicelli noodles, milk and sugar. Imagine it as a thick soup that is sprinkled with some almonds on top. These three joyful days are filled with family gatherings and good food. Married couples would also give out some money to children.
Credit: Michy Dizzle
In the mornings, the women would normally wake up earlier than the men to prepare for the big day. The women would prepare katlesi, eggchops, samosas, cookies and a lot of bread. Of course, the list goes on and on, as you can imagine 😉 Interestingly, even though they make a lot of food, somehow it always gets finished! After the men come back from the mosque, their family members (close and distant relatives) gather around to celebrate Eid.
Credit: Michy Dizzle
After lunch, they would rest and later in the evening, the children get to do fun things like visit the zoo and the carnival. In Tanzania, Eid is celebrated for four days. Usually on the third and fourth day, family members like to go out of town to their hometown or even popular beach areas like Zanzibar.
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In Bosnia and Herzegovina (as well as other countries), Eid-ul-Fitr is not celebrated throughout the whole of Syawal. For many countries, Eid is only celebrated for a few days. For Bosnians, Eid-ul-Adha is a bigger celebration. The mornings would start with prayer and the rest of the day would be filled with family visits and lots of food. The traditional Bosnian dishes that are served during Eid are pies, burek, stuffed bell pepper and onions (it’s super delicious, believe me!). They normally provide a three-course meal: soup and bread, main course that is usually filled with a variety of meat like lamb and veal. The meal ends with dessert and thick Bosnian coffee!
Palestinians call Eid-ul-Fitr as “Eid-ul-Saghir” (the small Eid). Eid-ul-Adha is celebrated for a week. For only two days, Palestinian Muslims make it a point to visit family members and relatives. The unique character about the Palestinian culture is that on the first day of Eid, the men from each family will gather and visit the distant female relatives. Also, some money is given not just to children but also to women, regardless whether they’re working or not. In most cultures, only children get money but the Palestinian Muslims prioritize children and women (the men don’t get any money, unless they’re kids). Apart from visiting family and friends, Palestinians also visit families of the deceased and those who are imprisoned by the Israeli authorities in order to warm the homes and hearts of the people.
Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, with approximately 202.9 million people who identify themselves as Muslims. And on top of that, Muslims in Indonesia consist of different ethnicities, as they live through out different provinces. Indonesians call Eid-ul-Fitr as “lebaran”, meaning celebration.
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If you’re wondering what’s the typical Eid dish for Indonesians, there won’t just be one answer. From ketupat and opor ayam, they also make soto, gule (gulai) and rawon. Trust me, the list goes on because each province has different dishes!
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In Turkey, Eid is known as “Bayram”. Turkey and Bosnia may have similar dishes served during Eid. Normally, they like to start with soup, and have a meat dish as their main dish. Baklava is definitely a compulsory dessert! They also serve chocolate, lokum (Turkish delight) and candies.
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It is customary for the men to go to the mosques for Eid prayer while the women stay at home to prepare for the big day. I found this rather interesting because I assumed that everyone would go to the mosque on that day but different communities have different customs. In other cultures like in Indonesia and Malaysia for instance, both men and women go to the mosque to perform Eid prayers. I was also surprised to know that during Eid, the takbir is not audible from outside the mosques. If I’m not mistaken this is a distinct character in many European societies.
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The first thing that comes to my mind about celebrating Eid in Western countries is how there is no big celebration, at least that is the experience that I had while I was studying abroad. However, I think Londoners have a different experience. Every year, there is an Eid Festival held in Trafalgar Square, a celebration not just for the Muslims but for non-Muslims to learn about the different Muslim communities as well.
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This is a big accomplishment for the Muslim community in London because for a Western country to celebrate a religious celebration in its public spaces is indeed, rare. Of course, you won’t expect hearing a khutbah in the middle of the square but instead, you’ll find yourself in a fashion show and a bazaar; where different nationalities promote and sell their ethnic clothes and food.
8. United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, Eid id celebrated with full of lights– literally. Buildings are lit and the night skies are filled with fireworks. For most countries, these types of festivals only occur during New Years but in the UAE, Eid is the most special celebration.
In most countries, Eid is celebrated for only a few days but not in Malaysia. The first few days are obviously the main days for visiting family and friends but Malaysians will also make “rumah terbuka” (or open house) through out the whole month of Syawal. The rationale behind that is so that it will give more time for Malaysians to mingle with everyone in the community including co-workers, neighbours and distant relatives.
The must-have Eid dishes are rendang, ketupat, satay, lontong and lemang. Lemang can only be found during Eid because it’s not very easy to make. The taste is milky and sticky, perfect to be eaten with chicken or beef rendang. Depending on where your hometown is, the dishes served will vary from one place to another. Most Malaysians will put on so much weight even after a month of fasting!
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Traditionally, Moroccans like to have a low-key celebration. After prayers, families would visit each other and kids would normally receive small gifts in a form of money. Before the feast, the women would normally be busy making pastries and cookies. Among the famous dishes to be served during Eid are couscous dishes, chicken with preserved lemons and olives as well as lamb or beef with prunes. Now, doesn’t that make your mouth water?
Credit: Gwyneth Talley
11. United States of America
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In 2015, it was estimated that there were 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. That’s a lot! In cities that have a big Muslim population like Dearborn Michigan for instance, you can image that Eid is celebrated wonderfully. There are several Islamic Centers through out the United States, but most of the time, the centers are too small to occupy Muslims for the congregational Eid prayer. Therefore, they usually perform their prayer at a hall or a park. In the bigger cities where the Islamic Center is big, they don’t have to pray outside. After prayers, there is usually food served at the center, cooked by the Muslim communities. Biryani and Arab dishes are popular dishes prepared for Eid in the United States.
Celebrating Eid in Singapore is similar to Malaysia and Indonesia. After prayers, every family member would kneel down and ask for forgiveness from their elders. Sometimes this part gets really teary but people will end up smiling in no time. Malays in Singapore would wear their traditional clothes. Men would wear baju melayu and the women would wear baju kurung or baju kebaya. The typical food that is served on this day is ketupat and ayam masak merah. Kids will get extra excited because they know that this is the time of the year that they will be getting some money as a gift called “duit raya”.
I hope everyone has had a blessed Ramadan and have a wonderful Eid!