Eid-Al-Fitr is the religious holiday which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It’s typically spent with extended family in most cultures. In my family, we have minimal family in the United States, and even less as the years have gone by, so the festivities have always been a bit low-key compared to other peoples stories. For me, Eid seemed to always be the marker of the end of Ramadan – and nothing more.
Growing up, the day was typically spent getting dressed in new holiday clothes, heading to the mosque for Eid prayers, a little socializing with our friends and family immediately after the prayer, and then we’d head back home to relax a bit before the second round of Eid expectations. Later, we’d make the journey to my aunt’s house and eat some traditional Pakistani food while exchanging Eidi money. We’d spend a few hours catching up, since we don’t typically see family very often, reminiscing about our passing childhoods and talking about how this past Ramadan had gone by so fast. Uneventful, the best part of Eid used to be getting a day off from school along with the fact we’d finally get to eat during the day.
A few years ago, I made some new Muslim friends and learned their experiences were similar. As we grew closer, we shared that we had begun to dread the bi-annual Eid festivities – they just never lived up to our expectations. They definitely didn’t match up to the festivities we saw our friends have on social media.
That first year, Eid happened to fall just after the school year and a few of us were going off to college anyways, so we chose to forgo the traditional familial festivities and opted to celebrate with our friends of several different faiths simply in honor of both Eid and our friendship. Little did we know, it would become a tradition.
We met up in Manhattan after prayers and set about creating our plan for the day. Staying true to our spontaneous selves, planning in advance what we will do for Eid didn’t and will never make sense. There’s something exciting about leaving Eid plans with our friends up in the air. We explore parts of the city we’ve never visited, and we explore parts of the city we grew up in to share our experiences with one another. By the end of our Eid day of celebration, we trek all around town, drink lots of coffee, take way too many photos, and build stronger friendships.
Today, this continues to be our unscheduled scheduled tradition, and celebrating Eid has never been more eventful and meaningful.
As a child, I always used to want more from Eid, but I never felt like it was more than a routine familial expectation that we had to do. It was basically a day off school, and I yearned for more. I wanted that connection to my family and community and that feeling of togetherness with my friends. But all it felt like was an anti-climactic ending for the month of Ramadan. While I don’t take away from family gatherings, I found a way to be excited about Eid. I found a middle ground. I found a way to continue to celebrate with my family while enjoying my day later with my friends – and it’s made the day so much more special.
How do you celebrate your Eid?