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Eid Al Fitr

Eid Al Fitr 2018 and 2019

201815 JunFriEid al-Fitr
16 JunSatEid al-Fitr Holiday
17 JunSunEid al-Fitr Holiday
20194 JunTueEid al-Fitr
5 JunWedEid al-Fitr Holiday
6 JunThuEid al-Fitr Holiday

Eid al Fitr, also known as “the Feast of Breaking the Fast,” “the Lesser Eid,” and “Sweet Eid” or “the Sugar Feast,” is one of the two most important holidays of the year to Muslims, the other one being Eid al Adha, “the Greater Eid.” Eid al Fitr falls on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, which directly follows the fasting month of Ramadan. It is the day on which the fasting ends and feasting on sweets and other delicious foods begins.

The date of Eid al Fitr moves on the Western calendar each year by 11 days or so due to the discrepancies between a lunar and a solar based time-keeping system. Technically, the precise date cannot be predicted with 100 percent accuracy, and moon-sighting committees must declare when Eid has begun. The declarations of the Saudi Arabian committee are usually followed.

As Ramadan fades away and Eid al Fitr begins, the atmosphere in Kuwait shifts from one of great solemnity to one of great festivity. For three or four days straight, the celebrations will continue, though the first day is the most important. It is considered at time of “new beginnings,” and so past grievances are often forgiven at this time. Houses are also cleaned out thoroughly and decorated with lights and signs saying “Eid Mubarak!” (Happy Eid!). New clothes are also worn, or at least one’s best clothes washed and put on, before heading to mosque to say prayers and hear a “khutba” (sermon).

Before entering the mosque, worshipers are expected to give “zakat al fitr,” a charitable contribution most often in the form of food, which will go to the poor and needy. At home, friends and family also often give gifts to one another, but the “eidiah,” a gift of money from elders to children, is most common. Children are even encouraged to go knock on neighbours’ doors and say “Eid Mubarak!” and hope to receive some additional eidiah funds.

Eid is about nothing if not about feasting. Lambs and other animals are slaughtered in great numbers, and while this is a sacrificial ritual, it also results in extra food on the table. In fact, as fasting is commanded during Ramadan, it is forbidden during Eid al Fitr, so everyone will be feasting, out of obedience to Koran if not out of hunger. The day begins with a small, sweet breakfast that usually includes dates. After mosque, it continues with a large lunch with the family, and there are always leftovers, or even a whole new feast, when dinner time arrives.

Three things to do should you find yourself in Kuwaiti during Eid al Fitr are:

  • Try Kuwaiti sweets like “sewain,” a kind of extra-sweet macaroni, or any number of other traditional taste treats found in a local “Kahk” (Kuwaiti bakery). Also stop by restaurants for authentic Kuwaiti cuisine, which is a mix of Arab, Persian, Indian, and other elements, and with a big dose of seafood. Expect to eat fish and “machboos,” a spicy rice dish with chicken or mutton mixed into it.
  • Go shopping for “Eid clothes,” and other items, at the largest mall in Kuwait, The Avenues in Kuwait City. You may also wish to stop by other malls like Souk Al Mubarakiya, 360 Mall, with its very modernistic architecture, and Souk Sharq, a mall right next to the sea. Don’t be surprised if you see men doing a sword dance called “the Arbha,” and women might consider getting beautiful henna art drawn on their hands, in accord with local custom.
  • Visit the Ramadan and Eid Exhibition, which is set up this time of year in Kuwait City. You can buy nearly anything imaginable at the “exhibits,” and you will be exposed to local industry and handicrafts.

Eid al Fitr is a time of joy and feasting in Kuwait after the long fast of Ramadan. Tourists can join in the feasting themselves, as well as find plenty of other activities to take part in.