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Eid Al-Fitr Traditions From Fourteen Women Around The World

Eid Mubarak! Marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr 2024 begins today. Celebrated around the world, fourteen women tell us about the Eid al-Fitr traditions in their countries and cultures.

From Syria to Sri Lanka, Kuwait to the UAE, Pakistan to Algeria, and far beyond, Citizen Femme speaks to fourteen women living around the world about their Eid al-Fitr traditions. Many Eid traditions span countries and cultures, such as the Eid Takbeer (a special praise of God reserved for this day); Eidiyya (the giving of money to younger generations) or Zakat al-Fitr (giving to those in need); and large, family lunches. Others are unique to certain countries, cultures or communities.

This is how Eid al-Fitr is celebrated or observed across the world.


Kuwait
Manal Almajed, Arts and Cultural Advisor at Curating Cultures 

Eid in Kuwait is a joyous time filled with family, tradition, and warmth. As Eid approaches, Kuwaiti women meticulously prepare their homes to welcome family members and guests. The grandparents’ house often serves as the central hub for Eid gatherings, where multigenerational families come together to share laughter, stories, and traditional meals. The highlight of Eid morning is the communal breakfast, which begins shortly after the Eid prayer at dawn. As the call of the Eid Takbeer echoes from nearby mosques, signalling the end of Ramadan’s fasting, families come together to enjoy a spread of traditional delights. Among the must-have dishes are balaleet and quraiba. The sweet fragrance of bakhoor fills the air, adding to the festive ambiance in every home. Another cherished custom in Kuwait is the tradition of Eidiyya, where elders gift cash to children and family members as a symbol of love and generosity.

 

 

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Nigerian American in the USA
Dr. Fatima Ibrahim, Optometrist

On Eid morning, we wake up early, pray the first prayer of the day at dawn and start to get dressed up for Eid – often in Nigerian attire. Before the Eid day begins, we make sure to pay Zakat al-Fitr, which is a charitable donation for those in need. We attend Eid prayer service at our local masjid, which includes a special khutbah (sermon) and Takbeerat (praise of God). Sweets are often distributed after prayer is completed, especially for kids. We may gather with a few friends in the neighbourhood after prayer and have breakfast – for us this is an American-style breakfast of pancakes, eggs, avocado toast and waffles. After this, we return home to call family and share Eid greetings with others. We then get together with a big group of young families, most of whom are also Nigerian, for an Eid celebration with food, dessert, and games to enjoy together. Most of the dishes we enjoy are Nigerian and include jollof rice, fried rice, roast lamb, moi moi, puff puff, and more.

 

 

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Egypt
Amira Elraghy, Creative Director

My memories of Eid in Egypt revolve around my grandma. We would wake up early, dress in a new outfit and go to Fajr prayer at dawn. Eid prayers were so fascinating to me as a child, and still are, even though I don’t celebrate in the same way now. Everyone looks happy, smells nice, and is dressed nicely – boys and men wear jalabiya, while girls and women wear colourful flowy dresses and headscarfs. Even those women who don’t wear a hijab would wrap a scarf around their neck. There’s also lots of street decorations and a festival vibe. As a child, we would go to my grandmother’s house for a big celebration with extended family. We’d eat kakh, an Eid dessert, usually before a lunch of liver, meats, and soup. Watching the ‘Eid programme’ on TV was a big tradition when I was younger too; they would show a special lineup of old, funny, black and white Egyptian movies and old plays. I don’t think they run this anymore. Eidiyya happens on this day too; it’s when older generations give younger generations money as a gift and celebration of Eid. When I was young I would get Eidiyya from my mum, dad, grandmother, and sometimes also from my aunties. I used to get about 400 EGP (about £6) and am not sure how much it is now, but I saw someone on TikTok recently who got 5000 EGP (about £80!). By sunset on this day, everyone is usually tired because they’ve been awake since the early-morning Eid prayer. On the second day, people start to go out and have lunch in restaurants – and people tend to dress up even more for this day than for the first.

 

 

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Pakistani American in Pakistan
Dr. Nabila Ismail, Founder of Dose of Travel Club and Dose of Travel

I spent both Ramadan and Eid in Pakistan last year and was excited to do so as everyone has Eid off as a holiday, something I don’t have the luxury of having in the US. Eid is celebrated for three days across Pakistan. The country goes into quiet mode throughout Ramadan; most shops and restaurants are closed during the day and street food vendors open up shop about an hour or two before it’s time to break your fast. After people have eaten and prayed, things liven up! People are out shopping because during this month there are many sales, specifically for Ramadan – which makes it the perfect time to buy an Eid outfit. My experience celebrating Eid has always been marked by getting up super early, dressing up in a new traditional outfit (that I’ve bought months in advance!), having a traditional breakfast, and running late to Eid prayer. I learnt that in Pakistan it’s not common for women to go to the mosque for Eid prayer; mostly only men go, so my Eid in Pakistan didn’t really start until the evening. It felt like a normal day – where you could eat again but there weren’t many festivities. If you’re invited over for dinner or lunch, you might go there, or head out to a restaurant.

 

 

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UAE
Noora Alsuwaidi, Content Associate

At the beginning of Ramadan, I start to order fabric for myself and my children to make new outfits for Eid. Then, one week before Eid we start other preparations. We like to do henna on our hands and legs; it’s tradition in the GCC to do this for special occasions like Eid or weddings. I live with my husband and his family, and my mother-in-law prepares two special meals for Eid, a vegetable gravy and a spicy meat dish. The smell of these two dishes in the house, at around 4AM, is the start of the Eid atmosphere. Also at this time all of the mosques close to the house start to repeat the Eid Takbeera, lasting until people start their Eid prayers at around 6AM. We prepare food, snacks, Arabic coffee, tea and sweets, and use oud to bakhoor our clothes, house and majlis (a seating area for guests), to welcome our visitors. I will dress my children up in their special Eid outfits, and teach them to say “Eid Mubarak” as well as how to reply to people who say it to them. Once my kids are ready, it is time for me to also get ready – I take a quick shower, dress, and do my makeup and hair. Adults will give children money, called Eidiyya, and at the end of the day they like to check who has gathered the most. I also teach them how to save it. Family members start to visit at around 8AM, and later in the day my husband and I will visit others – it is a day full of visits and incredible food. On the second and third days of Eid there are less house visits, and some people like to go out to Eid festivals, malls, parks, and other places in Dubai. 

 

 

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Syria
Rana Tellerfadi, Boutique Store Owner

As Eid approaches, I always change my hairstyle with a new cut or colour as well as buy new clothes. I also begin to make our traditional Eid sweet, called halawiyat. On the day before Eid we stay awake until the Fajr prayer time (at around 4.30AM) to hear a unique call from all the nearby mosques; it’s called the Eid Takbeer, and you’ll only hear this particular call once a year, at this time. On the first day of Eid we visit family and friends and give money to the younger members of the family – and take it from those who are older than us (this is called Eidiyya). On the second day, we go to a restaurant to relax after 30 days of fasting and cooking big evening meals at home.

 

 

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Indian American in the USA
Sarah Khan, Journalist

I’ve been fortunate enough to live in several countries with varied and rich Eid traditions, including Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, and the UAE. Here in the States, I try to celebrate with my family whenever I can, going to vast, suburban mosques for Eid prayers followed by visits to family and friends throughout the day for feast after feast. Some of my most memorable Eid days have been in my home city of New York. The Muslim community here has so many people like me, who have moved here to live and work far from their communities and traditions back home – so along the way, we’ve found our own chosen families to celebrate with. When the weather cooperates, Eid in Manhattan usually begins with al fresco prayers by the iconic arch in Washington Square Park, followed by a big group brunch.

 

 

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Palestinian in Canada
Tahany Okby, Psychotherapist

In the days running up to Eid, I’ll go with my children to buy new clothes – and lots of sweet desserts. I’ll also make some traditional Eid desserts, such as maamoul (date-filled cookies) or kahk al-Eid (cookies with dates, pistachio or walnuts). There is always a lot of chocolate in the house too. On the first morning of Eid, my children and I eat a special breakfast of dishes such as man’oushe, za’atar, pastries, and jibneh (Arabic cheese) – and we play music, like Ahlan Bil Eid. My children give me small gifts, and I give them money. Later, we’ll go out to meet friends, or go for dinner in a restaurant. When I lived in Palestine we used to always take a trip (like hiking or camping) on the second day of Eid, but I can’t do this in Canada as it usually falls during a very cold winter! Instead, I will invite friends to my house for a barbecue dinner with lots of music and dancing. There are lots of religious celebrations taking place close to my house, including at the mosque, which I used to go to but don’t anymore. One that stands out is the huge festival organised by the Muslim Association of Canada which thousands of people – from all countries and cultures – attend. I remember being fascinated by all the different styles of traditional clothes worn by people there. It made me feel like perhaps I should have worn Palestinian dress to celebrate too.  

 

 

Indian in the UAE
Aasiya Jagadeesh, Photographer

Growing up in Dubai we always used to wait for Eid holidays. If we got lucky, (like this year) we would have a very long holiday, up to nine days, of not going to work! I usually start preparing for Eid on the last two days of Ramadan; I visit the stores in the malls that have an Eid sale and buy little gifts for my nieces and nephews. I make sure my house is spick and span, and decorate it with twinkling moon and star fairy lights. On the day of the moon sighting we wish our family and friends “Chaand Raat Mubarak” – chaand in Hindi is moon and raat is night. I absolutely love Eid mornings, for several reasons. I wake up early, shower, put on my new Eid clothes and go to the mosque for Eid prayers. After this, the extended family get together and exchange wishes and hugs. We say “Taqabbal Allahu Minna wa Minkum” to each other which translates to “May Allah accept from you and us.” This is usually followed by a hearty morning breakfast – the first we have had since the 29 or 30 days since Ramadan began. Ladies cook up a storm in the kitchen for lunch and we convene for a family lunch, which is usually biryani and sheer khurma (a sweet vermicelli pudding with nuts). The rest of Eid is spent visiting family and friends’ houses, with the exchange of wishes, sweets and gifts. Over the rest of the Eid days, we try to go for a family dinner somewhere like Absolute Barbecues, followed by a nice stroll along Port Rashid. My husband and I also make it a point to catch the latest movie (if it’s good) at the theatres.

 

 

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British Pakistani in Pakistan
Anam Hussain, Diaspora Journalist plus Founder of Capra Falconeri Traveller Pakistan Magazine

A hand-painted bowl, brimming with sheer khurma (vermicelli pudding) and elegantly garnished with almonds and pistachios, sets the tone for the festive morning of Eid in Pakistan. I don a new shalwar kameez, detailed with vibrant colours and intricate embroidery, offer my prayers, and decorate our home with lights and an ‘Eid Mubarak’ banner to welcome the festive spirit. The day unfolds with phone calls to relatives across the world, from both paternal and maternal sides, sharing joyous moments and exchanging well-wishes. One of my most cherished moments at this time of the year is walking through the bustling bazaars, listening to the melodious clinking of bangles, browsing the handcrafted khussa shoes, and waiting for my turn to have mehndi applied to my hands at the stalls. By evening, the entire family congregates at the home of our eldest relative, fostering a sense of unity and togetherness. Additionally, we pay respects to those grieving by visiting relatives who have recently lost family members.

 

 

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French Algerian in Algeria
Hakima Tou, Director

Eid is always a joyful, calorie-packed celebration. My mum usually wakes up very early to make the traditional Algerian msemen (a kind of pancake) for breakfast and to prepare the couscous for lunch and dinner. We all get ready and wear a nice – and usually new – outfit. My brothers, sisters and their children come to my mum’s house around 9AM, everyone is well dressed and the kids are very excited for the day ahead. Everyone prays, either at home or at the mosque; men tend to go to the mosque and women will choose depending on how ready everything (i.e. the food preparation) is. When everyone is back home after this, we sit down and have a big breakfast-brunch together, with coffee or mint tea, cakes and msemsem. The kids get presents, money and sweets. During the day, we go and visit family, neighbours and friends, and they also pop by to wish us Eid Mubarak. Visitors don’t stay too long as there are a lot of people to go and see. We exchange traditional Eid cakes, which are usually homemade. We have couscous mid-afternoon or for dinner; it depends how much we have eaten that day. And the following day everybody is on their blood sugar monitor discussing their readings…

 

 

British Pakistani in the United Kingdom
Sadaf Quyoum, Freelance Journalist

Eid is a really buzzy atmosphere in London, especially with the Ramadan lights in central London. I normally go up north to spend time with the family where we will exchange gifts and indulge in traditional Pakistani food. It’s a time for unity, gratitude and blessings. I’ll be wearing an outfit from my favourite designer Hussain Rehar, and will visit all my friends and family. Since the celebration continues for three days, I’ll take the kids to Westfield for their yearly Eid festival to shop, and also dine in one of my favourite restaurants like Jamavar.

 

 

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Sri Lanka
Fahmida Arafad, Teaching Assistant at Galle International College

During Eid, we wear new clothes and always eat something sweet on the way to the mosque, such as a date. We also recite a small prayer, which we call a Takbeer. We give money to others who are less fortunate than us (this is known as Zakat al-Fitr) and of course, send Eid greetings to friends and family. Lunch is a big deal for us over Eid al-Fitr, and we prepare something special. For me, this includes biryani for our main course, and for dessert it is often watalappan – a creamy coconut custard that is sweetened with spices such as nutmeg and cardamon as well as with kitul jaggery, a sap from the Fishtail Palm native to Sri Lanka.

 

 

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Malaysia
Suzarene Shukor, Special Education Teacher

Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hari Raya (or Eid al-Fitr) has always been a deeply cherished celebration for my family, marking Ramadan’s end. The eve of Raya brims with excitement as we tidy up and prepare traditional dishes like ketupat, lemang, and rendang. A cherished moment is waking up to my dad’s Takbir Raya outside our bedroom door, which marks the end of Ramadan and heralds the festive day. Our family bonds during iftar and Takbir Raya at home, forging memories of togetherness. After mosque prayers, we exchange forgiveness and duit raya (a money packet), and relish local delicacies while visiting family. Evenings sparkle with fireworks and weekends with open houses, all etching lasting memories. These moments with family are treasured forever.

 

 

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Lead image: Visit Dubai/Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai
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