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Celebrating Eid with a Saudi flavor
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 07 - 08 - 2013

Mariam Nihal
Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH – Eid Al-Fitr, also known as the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is a celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and falls on the first day of Shawwal. Muslims look forward to the sacred event every year and celebrate the auspicious occasion worldwide.
Muslims living in the Kingdom celebrate Eid by attending the Eid prayer (called Al-Mashhad) at the mosques with their families, exchange Eid greetings and give Eidiyah (money given to children as a token of love on Eid by parents, relatives, neighbors and brothers) to young ones. People dress in their finest clothes, use bukhoor (scented bricks) that are burned in incense burners to perfume their homes and adorn their houses with lights, lanterns and other traditional ornaments.
It is a common sight to see children dressed in new traditional clothes at the mosques around the country. “During Eid, everyone wants to wear something new albeit expensive. It's our greatest celebratory event. From a man who is 80 years old to a girl who is just eight years old everyone wants to wear something new and it's the greatest time for boutiques and retail outlets,” Abdullah Mohammad, a 37-year-old Saudi thobe designer, told Saudi Gazette.
Shazia Hanif, a 24-year-old Indian student living in Jeddah, said: “Dresses are specially tailored for the occasion. We spent SR7,000 for the whole family on clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry. My Saudi friend spent SR5,000 on a dress. We tend to go overboard but we love Eid.”
Much like Saudi households, many expatriate families hold a feast in segregated or mixed environments, preparing lavish feasts for all. Most Saudi families choose to have breakfast at their patriarch's homes.
Typically, families go out for lunch and dinner on the second and third day of Ramadan and visit amusement parks or the Corniche for fireworks and other entertainment opportunities for children. Many traditional Saudi families enjoy coming together for Eid breakfast that is either served in the newly decorated extravagant home settings of locals or enjoyed on the floor on long sheets of plastic rolls.
Homes are decorated with new furniture, decor and cutlery. “I bought a new TV, curtains and crockery, and changed my living room decor. I usually do it every year,” said Ayesha Hashmi, a 45-year-old Saudi housewife.
Families prepare for traditional sweets and savories to be served on the day of Eid a week in advance. “I always have the best menu for children and elders. It's a tradition. I bake cakes and brownies and have them delivered before Eid to everyone I know,” said Sarah Kamal, a 50-year-old Saudi mother.
During the course of the day, families exchange gifts and warm Eid greetings with relatives, neighbors and friends.
Children across the world eagerly anticipate Eid Al-Fitr festivities with families.
“I love Eid. I always get a lot of money from my parents, older siblings and relatives. It's better than my birthday and I love giving it (Eidiyah) to my younger sister. Makes me feel proud and compassionate. Just what Eid is about,” said Ahmed Essam, a 16-year-old Saudi student.
Many south Asians celebrate Eid on the night it is announced and women gather around to prepare Eid sweets and use henna to decorate their hands. “We go gold shopping and on the eve of Eid, which we call ‘Chand Raat,' we invite all our Saudi friends as well and decorate our hands with henna, make sweets called ‘Siwayan' and exchange gifts,” said Shaista Iqbal, a 23-year-old Pakistani student.
Local restaurants, bakeries and cafes use traditional adornments and offer special sweets and savories for the festival highlighting the Eid spirit. Over the three-day Eid period many families tend to spend the first day of Eid at home and the rest are spent visiting friends and relatives.
“We usually go to the Corniche in Jeddah to celebrate with the family. My husband and I exchange gifts with the whole family on the first day of Eid. Later our friends come over and we enjoy dates, sweets, Arabic coffee and home-made delicacies with our loved ones till the late hours of the night,” said Sarah Taher, a 33-year-old Egyptian teacher in Jeddah.
"I love Eid in Saudi Arabia. Even though I am from Egypt, I love sharing the Saudi spirit of Eid with my Saudi husband and his extended family. We learn recipes from our local friends like Al-Dibyaza (made of dry fruits, sugar and water) and celebrate Eid the Saudi way. The celebration is all about forgiveness and moving better with a positive message," said Taher.

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