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Eid Mubarak!

As Christmas celebrations reach their peak, for over a billion people, today is a special day –Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadan. Muslims all over the world will celebrate for three days.


Tea rather than turkey

Don’t be surprised to see your Muslim neighbors all jazzed up and looking as if they were going for a wedding.

Tradition demands that people dress in new clothes, eat some dates and go to mosques for the special Eid prayers on Eid-ul-Fitr (Festival of breaking the fast) or Seker Bayram as it is known in Turkish. The festival commemorates both a joyous holiday and some sadness due to the end of the blessed month of Ramadan. The prayers involve thanks and gratitude to Allah. Greetings of "Eid-Mubarak" or "a blessed Eid" are exchanged.

Prior to the start of the prayer, every Muslim must pay Zakatul Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This zakat is normally given to a local needy Muslim. It can be given anytime during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can use it for Eid purchases.Later, there’s much socializing and unpacking of gifts as relatives and friends visit each other. It is customary for children to also receive a "Eidyah" from their grown-up relatives. This is a small sum of money that the children receive, to spend on all their activities throughout the Eid.

And of course as with all festivals, good food plays a vital role in keeping all those spirits high. Sweetmeats and meat are the staple for Eid celebrations.

"Eid al-Adha" (Festival of Sacrifice) coincides with the Hajj and commemorates prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of a sheep in place of prophet Ishmael. The Muslims, who can afford to do so, offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice. The meat is distributed for consumption to family, friends, and to the poor and needy. Eid-ul-Fitr takes place in the tenth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, after the sighting of the new moon on the previous evening. The exact time of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month sometimes varies from place to place as some rely heavily on the moon sightings while others depend on science. An Imam (Muslim holy man) will declare the exact time of Ramadan just prior to its commencement. Since Eid-ul-Fitr coincides this year with the holiday season in Germany, the country’s 3 million Muslims already have a festive atmosphere in place for their special festival.

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