This holiday (falling on July 18 this year), which is celebrated all over the world, marks the end of Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting when devout Muslims don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It’s been particularly difficult this year, with deaths reported in Pakistan and India and blamed on the unusually high summer temperatures.
Ramadan is a lunar holiday that begins about eleven days earlier in the calendar each year as it follows the course of the moon. It begins when the first crescent moon is spotted, and it ends when the first crescent moon of the next lunar cycle is spotted and announced with drum rolls and cannons.
The celebration of Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast) lasts for up to three days. The first morning begins with a special prayer that is said in large open spaces. People buy new clothes and dress up, especially children. In many cities, there are carnivals with rides and games. Relatives give children coins and sweets as gifts. The poor are also acknowledged with gifts of money. Families gather for feasts, to indulge in the foods that were only enjoyed at night during Ramadan.
Waverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”
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