As the fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims around the world are preparing for Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast”.
A new moon was sighted on Thursday evening after Maghrib prayers in Saudi Arabia, meaning that Eid celebrations there will begin on Friday, April 21.
Other countries follow independent sightings.
Lunar months last between 29 and 30 days so Muslims usually have to wait until the night before Eid to verify its date.
If the new moon is visible, then the next day will be Eid, if not, Muslims will then fast one more day to complete a 30-day month.
When the sighting has been verified, Eid is declared on television, radio stations and at mosques.
How do Muslims celebrate Eid?
Traditionally, Eid is celebrated for three days as an official holiday in Muslim-majority countries. However, the number of holiday days varies by country.
Muslims begin Eid day celebrations by partaking in a prayer service that takes place shortly after dawn, followed by a short sermon.
On their way to the prayer, which is traditionally held in an open area, Muslims recite takbeerat, praising God by saying “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is great”.
It is customary to eat something sweet before the prayer, such as date-filled biscuits known as maamoul.
Muslims usually spend the day visiting relatives and neighbours and accepting sweets as they move around from house to house.
Each country has traditional desserts and sweets that are prepared before Eid or on the morning of the first day.
Across the Middle East, making date-filled semolina cookies called maamoul has been a tradition during Eid. These can also be filled with nuts and dusted with icing sugar.
Sheer khurma or siviyaan is the Eid speciality in households across India and Pakistan. The vermicelli and milk pudding are often decorated with nuts or raisins.
Baklava, a layered pastry, is also prepared for Eid in Turkey and across the region. Layers of thin filo pastry are stuffed with pistachio and other nuts soaked in orange blossom syrup. The traditional sweet can also be made with a variety of different fillings.
In Nigeria, making amala with ewedu is a celebratory dish served on special occasions like Eid. Ewedu is a traditional plant-based soup served with yam flour or cassava served with a meat stew.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, tufahija – poached stuffed apples in simple syrup, sometimes stuffed with walnuts – is a traditional dessert which is served on Eid-al-Fitr.
In Morocco, a savoury pie made with chicken or pigeon, known as bastilla, is often prepared for Eid. The meat is marinated for a day or two, wrapped in thin layers and then baked or deep-fried.
Children, dressed in new clothes, are offered gifts and money to celebrate the joyous occasion.
In some countries, families visit graveyards to offer their respects to departed family members.
It is common for Muslim-majority countries to decorate their cities with lights and hold festivities to commemorate the end of the fasting month.
What are common Eid greetings?
The most popular greeting is “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid) or “Eid sa’id” (Happy Eid). Eid greetings also vary depending on the country and language.
The video below shows how people say Eid Mubarak in different languages around the world.