The below article was originally published by Jasmin Lavoie in The Independent on July 5, 2016.
Literally translated from Arabic as the ‘festival of breaking the fast’, the religious holiday usually lasts for a number of days.
The celebrations involve a range of traditions, generally including a gathering of family and friends to eat and pray together.
What is the Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important days in the Muslim calendar, although its significance is purely spiritual.
The festival has no connection with any historical event but is a day where Muslims thank Allah for the strength, the will and the endurance he gives them, especially during Ramadan.
Regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, Ramadan is the period when Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset. They refrain from consuming food, drink and engaging in sexual relations. It also includes the increased offering of prayers and recitation of the Quran.
When is Eid al-Fitr?
On the Gregorian calendar, the date varies from one year to another and begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky
It also depends on the location, with different countries observing it in different ways. This year, it will be on the 6 July, according to Islamic Relief UK. The feasts last up to three days in most Muslim countries.
How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
On the first morning of the celebration, many gather in local mosques or open-air locations for special prayers called Salat al-Eid, and have breakfast.
Muslims put on their finest clothes for what will be their first daylight meal in a month. Some will exchange gifts, greeting cards and prepare special foods. Eid al-Fitr is to celebrate “the happiness which man feels after successfully completing an important task,” according to Al-Islam.
Gatherings will take place to mark the festival across the UK, including an event hosted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in Trafalgar Square on 9 July. Highlights include prayers, a food festival, and Arabic arts.
Last year, a record-breaking 60,000 Muslims turned up in a Birmingham park to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Eid el-Fitr should be distinguished from Eid al-Adha, which is considered the holiest of the two main Muslim festivals.
Taking place this year on 10 September, it marks the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to Allah’s command, before Allah intervened through his angel Jibra’il and informed him the sacrifice had already been accepted.
Read the original version of this article in The Independent here.