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Eid al-Fitr (copy)

Bangladeshi Muslims crowd the roof of a train, as others attempt to find space to travel home ahead of Eid al-Fitr at a railway station in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2018. Hundreds of thousands of people working in Dhaka leave for their hometowns to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. The event is is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan.

Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, one of the religion’s principal festivals. In August, Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha. 

What is Eid?

Eid literally means a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. There are two major eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid al-Adha later.

Eid al-Fitr is a three-day-long festival and is known as the “Lesser” or “Smaller Eid” when compared to Eid al-Adha, which is four-days-long and is known as the “Greater Eid.”

Why is Eid celebrated twice a year?

The two Eids recognize, celebrate and recall two distinct events that are significant to the story of Islam.

Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown for a month.

How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special morning prayers. People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid” and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. Practices vary from country to country.

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In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.

In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate.

How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha?

The other festival, Eid al-Adha, is the “feast of the sacrifice.” It comes at the end of the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage by millions of Muslims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is obligatory once in a lifetime, but only for those with means.

Eid al-Adha recalls the story of how God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as a test of faith.  

When are they celebrated?

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar.

Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the final month in the Islamic calendar.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and dates are calculated based on lunar phases. Since the Islamic calendar year is shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar year by 10 to 12 days, the dates for Ramadan and Eid on the Gregorian calendar can vary year by year.

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