3 Days of Eid al-Fitr Celebrations
Eid al-Fitr is a 3 day celebration marking the end of the month of fasting in the Muslim culture called Ramadan, it translates to 'Festival of Breaking Fast'. It is thought the first Eid celebration dates back as far as 624CE as a battle victory. Eid only begins on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal when the crescent moon is seen and is therefore dependent on where someone is located in the world and when the new moon takes place. Muslims are not permitted to fast on this day even if they wish to continue doing so. It is a time to reflect on their strength during Ramadan and show gratitude to God.
The first day of celebration begins with a hearty breakfast and a unique prayer service offered in a large communal area. This special salat (prayer), followed by a sermon, is only performed in large gatherings and many people travel in preparation for these events.
People are also encouraged to donate to charity, known as Zakat al-fitr, which can be done during Ramadan or on Eid al-Fitr. These donations for those in need will include items such as large quantities of flour, raisins, barley or their monetary equivalent. Some people will also show their charity by volunteering in soup kitchens and helping out where possible.
Day one of this celebration in Turkey is also known as the Candy Festival where children are given sweets such as cookies, candy or dates and money bags. This gift giving is between everyone, family, friends, neighbours and even strangers. Families are also known to give gifts to each other although most of the time it is the children that benefit the most.
During this time it is busy on the roads. People go to prayer, meet up with family members near and far, visit friends for big feasts and social gatherings in public areas. Most businesses, government and schools will close during this time and even businesses operating in a non Muslim area may have altered hours of operation. Public transport in Istanbul is usually free over these days.
In some areas the celebrations of Eid al-Fitr can be enormous. Most people will wear new clothes, visit with loved ones and grave sites of those passed. The days are completed with huge celebrations and fireworks in some cities.