Eid al-Fitr in United States


Many Muslims in the United States celebrate Eid al-Fitr (also known as Id al-Fitr or Eid ul-Fitr) on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar. It marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan and the start of a feast that lasts up to three days in some countries.

 

What do people do?

Eid al-Fitr is an important Islamic holiday that involves many Muslims waking up early and praying either at an outdoor prayer ground or a mosque. Many Muslims dress in their finest clothes and adorn their homes with lights and other decorations. Old wrongs are forgiven and money is given to the poor. Special foods are prepared and friends or relatives are invited to share the feast. Gifts and greeting cards are exchanged and children receive presents.  Eid al-Fitr is a joyous occasion but its underlying purpose is to praise God and give thanks to him, according to Islamic belief.

Some Muslim groups in the United States campaign for schools in some parts of the country to allocate Eid al-Fitr as a day off without being penalized on Eid al-Fitr. For example, the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, which is a group of more than 80 religious and ethnic organizations, have been lobbying to have the two Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha designated as days off in New York City schools.

Public life

Eid al-Fitr is not a federal public holiday in the United States. However, many Islamic businesses and organizations may alter their business hours during this event. There may be some congestion around mosques around this time of the year.

Background

Eid al-Fitr is also known as the Feast of Fast-Breaking or the Lesser Feast. It marks the end of Ramadan and the start of a feast that lasts up to three days in some countries, such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. It is one of Islam’s two major festivals, with Eid al-Adha being the other major festival. Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the fasting that occurs during Ramadan. 

 

It is not possible to predict the date of Eid al-Fitr according to the Gregorian calendar accurately. This is because the month of Shawwal begins, and hence the month of Ramadan ends, after a confirmed sighting of the new moon. The new moon may be sighted earlier or later in specific locations. Hence, Muslims in different communities, for example on the east and west coasts of the USA and Canada, may begin the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations on different dates.

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