Saturday 19 September 2009

Eid Traditions

Irish Muslimah recently posed a question on her blog which I thought was very pertinent. She asked what kinds of food people prepare on Eid and how they celebrated. I also recently got into conversation with iMuslimah regarding how we celebrate Eid. It got me thinking about some of my childhood Eid traditions and some of the traditions I am passing onto my children.

I have been lucky in that I grew up amongst extended family, with all of the chaos, love and never-ending squabbling that this brings. As a child Eid meant gifts of money (lots of change from our dad and uncle’ pockets), spending it immediately on sweets and spending the day running around in our new clothes creating mayhem. As we got older, we introduced a new tradition. The first time we did this was when I was about 13 or 14. We waited until our parents were asleep, then decorated the house with balloons, tinsel and anything else vaguely decorative we got hold of. They got up in the morning, found our little surprise and though the whole thing was hilarious. Each year after this, it wasn’t a surprise and they could hear us popping balloons downstairs, but left us to it.

Now that I have children of my own, each year I add some of my own traditions. The night before Eid the local stores are all open till midnight, so one tradition is for me and my sisters to go out the night before and match bangles to our outfits (and get my husband to pay!). Another is to wait for the children to go to bed and then decorate the house with balloons, banners, ribbons, fairy lights and Eid cards. I have had my brother-in-law up till 2am doing this before. The kids come down in the morning completely awed and excited. I also get up early to make sevaiya (vermicelli in milk) and cupcakes for breakfast. After my husband and his brothers have left for Eid prayers, I rush the kids upstairs get them dressed and get myself dolled up, so that we all look nice for when they get back. Lunch is usually at my mum’s if we are celebrating together, although it has happened before once or twice that we end up celebrating on different days in which case I end up inviting friends and relatives for lunch and dinner in shifts. Most of the cooking is done before or the ingredients prepared and stored in the fridge (onions chopped, tomatoes pureed, tandoori chicken marinated day before etc) so that I can get the cooking done fairly quickly. Around mid-morning, the presents come out and any gifts of money are handed over. After lunch, the rounds of visiting (usually with my mum) begin. Our family in Pakistan make attempts to call us on the manic phone lines and wish us a happy Eid. Pakistan usually celebrates a day after everyone else, so we call them the next morning after fajr when there is a better chance of getting through.

By late afternoon, we are exhausted and start shedding the uncomfortable shoes and prickly jewellery bit by bit to get comfortable. We end up on the sofa watching a movie with my sisters and mum and with the boys having fallen asleep until dinner time.

A colleague once explained that Eid begins the evening that Ramadan ends, not the next morning (our day runs from one sunset to the next), so many people miss a big chunk of it because they celebrate from the next morning. This being the case I now call all of my family the night before and wish them Eid Mubarak.

A tradition we added last year was to go for a walk down the main road which our road leads off. This is packed with shops and they are all open till midnight or later. There are girls sitting outside doing henna and the road is packed with people out enjoying the atmosphere. The ice-cream parlour is open till the small hours and there are stalls selling Indian slippers, bangles and dress jewellery.

This year I am busy making banners and planning my Eid menu and getting my Eid cards and parcels ready. I hope to attempt to cook some home-made Indian sweets or toffee/fudge and fairy cakes to decorate if I get the time. I hope I can make enough to send to all of my neighbours (including some of the Non-Muslim ones). This is something I learned from my mum. Our neighbours were a Gujerati family who were amazing cooks, so every Eid they would pop over to say hello with a gorgeous plate of Indian sweets, home-made biscuits and savoury’s. In turn my mum would send plates of her gorgeous pilau, chicken curry, tandoori chicken and kebabs to her English neighbours who every Eid send back a card and box of chocolates.

Insh’Allah, most of all I hope we all celebrate together (on the same day please!) and remember Allah (SWT) even during our times of celebration.

Anas (ra), a companion of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reported that when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) migrated from Makkah to Madinah, the people of Madinah used to have two festivals. On those two days they had carnivals and festivity. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked the Ansaar (the Muslims of Madinah) about it. They replied that before Islam they used to have carnivals on those two joyous days. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told them: 'Instead of those two days, Allah has appointed two other days which are better, the days of Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha.' (Ahmed, Abu Dawood).


  1. Aww Masha Allah that's just soooooo sweeeeeet .... It sounds soooo much fun ...

  2. Assalam-alaikam Sis,
    They are sweet memories alhamdulillah and I hope my kids have the same.