This Islamic holiday is celebrated on the Islamic month of Shawwal’s first day. It is celebrated as the last day of Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar that is observed through fasting, praying, and other activities. The celebration is also called the Sweet Festival and the Feast of Breaking of the Fast.

On this last day of Ramada, Muslims will wake up early to pray, either privately or at a mosque. For this prayer, they will dress up and decorate homes with lights. Forgiveness and charity are themes for the day, marked by forgiving grudges, charity work, and donations. Muslims will trade gifts and cards and gather to give praise and thanks. The sermon given at Eid-al-Fitr services is called khutba. Some religious ceremonies are held at large venues or outdoors, which some observers even make trips to attend

The charity work associated with the day is called zakat al-Fitr, for which Muslims must donate a quantity of flour, barley, dates and other foods or the equivalence in money. This is done prior to the Eid prayer, which focuses on thankfulness and happiness.

Historical Background

The reason behind this feast has no significance of its own besides celebrated the end of Ramadan. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a Muslim holiday period of fasting, prayer, charity, and reflection. The last third of the month is considered particularly holy, as this is when the beginning of the Koran was given to the Prophet Muhammad. The date of celebration depends on whether followers observe according to the Moon’s activity or by following proclamations from religious and political leaders. Each Ramadan starts eleven days before the last Ramadan celebration took place.

The principle tradition of Ramadan is the fasting, considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The fasting includes the restriction of food, drinking smoking, sexual intercourse, and other vice behavior such as fighting during Ramadan days. The feast even includes water.

Muslims believe that during this time of year, Muhammad was sent the Koran from heaven, preparing for the prophet’s gradual relation. Muhammad stated that during this month, the gates of Hell are closed and Heaven’s are opened. It is believed that the Archangel Gabriel chose Muhammad for this task. Readings of the Koran usually occur in the original Arabic language in order to preserve this. The Shia and Sunni division of Islam, disagree on the date of Laylat al-Qadr.

This is why Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated with feasting and a festive atmosphere—observers no longer have to fast or adhere to other restrictions. Some cultures make the festival last up to three days. It is called the Festival of Sweets because many foods served on this day are decadent, and the breakfast is traditionally sweet tasting, often featuring dates.

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