As the coronavirus pandemic continues to circle the globe, millions of Muslims around the world will celebrate one of their biggest religious festivals, Eid al-Fitr.
Eid al-Fitr is Arabic for “festival of the breaking of the fast,” and this year’s celebrations, which begin the evening of May 23, will likely look a lot different due to the pandemic. The festival marks the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset during Ramadan, which is a time for spiritual reflection, fulfillment and reaffirming of faith.
The holiday begins with a greeting of either “Eid Mubarak” or “Blessed Eid,” both of which can be translated to “have a blessed holiday.”
Here’s what you should know about Eid al-Fitr:
When is Eid al-Fitr observed?
The timing of Eid al-Fitr is based on sighting of the crescent moon per the Islamic lunar calendar. It can be difficult to predict when the festival will occur in each country.
While some Muslims wait to see the moon themselves, many either use the calculated time of the new moon, or base it on the declaration made in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
Ramadan amid coronavirus:Muslim hearts ache as coronavirus keeps us apart during Ramadan
How will Eid celebrations be different amid coronavirus?
Typically, Muslims gather at mosques and prayer areas in the morning to perform Eid Prayer and greet each other. Other traditions include visiting friends and relatives, hosting food parties and sharing sweets.
This year, Muslim families isolated at home during the coronavirus quarantine will miss those communal traditions. Instead, many are creating prayer spaces inside their houses modeled after the places where they normally would worship.
Can’t go to mosque during Ramadan?:Families make ‘mini-mosques’ at home amid coronavirus
Home decorating for the holy month is not a new tradition, but it’s taken on new significance this year because of the isolation wrought by the pandemic. Families want to keep the festive spirit of Ramadan, especially for children who look forward all year to the holiday.
During Eid, children get new clothes, shoes and cash gifts called “Eidi” from their elders and relatives.
Since mosques had to close their doors, many Islamic institutions and foundations opened more virtual spaces to help Muslims worship and offer guidance during the pandemic.
The holiday is considered a time of forgiveness and of giving thanks to Allah for helping people to complete their spiritual fasting. Many Muslims display their thanks by giving donations and food to those less fortunate than themselves.
How long is the Eid festival?
Eid is a three-day celebration and in most Muslim countries, Eid is observed as public and school holidays. In the U.S., many employers and schools allow time off for Muslim workers and children – particularly in areas with a high Muslim population.
How should you greet Muslims on Eid al-Fitr?
The most standard greetings on this occasion is “Eid Mubarak” which means “have a blessed Eid.”
Contributing: Waseem Abbasi and Joshua Bote, USA TODAY