As we inch ever closer to Ramadan’s close, the festive cheer is building up to its culmination on Eid al-Fitr, signifying the end of Ramadan and the start of the month of Syawal.
In most countries, this means that the Muslim community comes together for prayers and feasts, and in some places, the festivities last the entire month.
You may be familiar with how Eid is celebrated in your country, but have you ever wondered how it’s welcomed in other countries?
From traditional costumes to local customs to specialty dishes, each country has their own unique take.
Despite the various cultural differences, the common threads connecting all Muslims together in their celebrations are themes like the renewal of familial/community ties and the seeking and granting of forgiveness.
And the festivities aren’t only for Muslims: non-Muslims often join in too, especially when it comes to visiting houses and enjoying the delicious Eid cuisine.
Let’s take look at how Eid is celebrated around the world:
Here, Eid al-Fitr is known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa, with “Selamat Hari Raya” being the most commonly exchanged greeting.
Those living in cities with family homes in smaller towns and villages will return home in droves, locally known as the “balik kampung” (“homecoming”) rush.
Being a Muslim-majority country, Malaysians observe the public holiday over two days. On the first day, Muslims will gather for the Eid prayer in the morning wearing their Raya finery, followed by visiting relatives’ and neighbors’ homes.
Some of the popular dishes served are rendang (a spicy meat dish, usually beef or chicken) and ketupat (sticky rice wrapped and boiled in a palm leaf).
Its neighbor, Singapore, also celebrates Eid similarly, though on a smaller scale.
Home to the largest Muslim population in a country, it’s no surprise that Eid is a big deal here. It’s known as Lebaran or Hari Raya Idul Fitri to Indonesians, and similar to Malaysia, in the days before Eid, millions will return to their hometowns in what is called “mudik”.
In the rural areas, Eid is often greeted with a bang, with firecrackers and fireworks being set off. Muslims will greet one another with “Selamat Idul Fitri” (“Happy Eid”) and ask for forgiveness by saying “Mohon maaf lahir dan batin”.
It’s tradition for adults to give children small paper packets with money, while favorite dishes are sayur lodeh (vegetable stew containing coconut milk) and opor ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk).
Provinces with large Muslim communities – such as Xinjiang and Ningxia – get to enjoy one day off as public holiday.
In Yunnan province, some will travel to the tomb of Sayyid Ajjal in Wo-erh-to to clean his tomb and read from the Quran. Sayyid Ajjal was said to be Yunnan’s first provincial governor in the 13th century, and a wise Muslim leader.
The Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang will usually serve sanzi (deep-fried crispy noodles) as the traditional dish for Eid.
Afghans welcome Eid with an egg-cellent tradition: a massive egg fight.
Known as “Tokhm-Jangi”, families will hard-boil hundreds of eggs and paint them in bright colors. Then everyone will gather at parks and other open spaces and try to crack each other’s eggs.
Eid is celebrated over three days, and Afghans will prepare for the celebration by cleaning their homes and buying new clothes. When night falls, many households will light bonfires outside to gather around and socialize.
Jelabi (a deep-fried treat soaked in syrup), shor nakhod (chickpea and potato salad), and sheer pira (a sweet milky fudge with pistachio and walnut) are commonly served to guests.
In Turkey, Eid is literally the holiday of sweets, as it’s referred to as Seker Bayram (“Bayram of Sweets”) and Ramazan Bayram (“Ramadan Bayram”); “bayram” being the term for national holidays.
Children will normally go door-to-door asking for sweets, such as Turkish delight and baklava.
If you’re visiting the country during this time of year, you’ll often hear locals greet one another with “Bayramınız kutlu olsun” (“May your bayram be blessed”) or “Bayramınız mübarek olsun” (“May your bayram be blessed”).
The night before Eid, called Chaand Raat (meaning “Night of the Moon”), is when families would do their last-minute Eid shopping, so bazaars and shopping malls will be buzzing with excitement.
Young women will also put on colorful bangles and apply mehndi, or decorative henna designs, on their hands and feet.
Some sumptuous Eid dishes that you’ll see a lot of are briyani, meethi sewai (vermicelli cooked in milk with almonds and pistachios), and sheer khurma (vermicelli pudding with milk and dried dates).