As Ramadan draws to a close, we at ACS are thinking of our colleagues, clients and friends near and far who will be celebrating Eid-Al-Fitr. This year the four-day festival begins on the evening of Wednesday 12 May. The festival marks the end of Ramadan, which is the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic lunar calendar and is believed to be the time when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH*). Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is therefore one of the most important religious holidays; it is observed by millions of Muslims worldwide who fast from dawn till dusk, spending their time in spiritual reflection and prayer.
Under usual circumstances, the day starts with prayers and a large meal is usually the main event, but given that lock down restrictions will impact the number of people allowed in a place of worship, Eid-Al-Fitr will look a bit different this year.
Social distancing may remain the order of the day for now however there are lots of other ways that people can celebrate, including:
- spending time exchanging gifts and visiting friends and family;
- giving to charity or performing ‘Zakat’, be it donating money, food or time; and
- eating lots of sweet things! Eid al-Fitr is sometimes referred to as the Sugar Feast; a nod to the fact that a large essential part of the meal that is eaten at the festival is desserts but what that looks like varies from country to country.
On that point did you know…
- In Turkey – Baklava and Turkish delight is all the rage and is given to friends, family and neighbours.
- In Iraq and Saudi Arabia - the eating of dates is considered to be an important part of Ramadan and Eid. Why? Because they are a popular snack eaten at the pre-dawn meal, before the fast (called the Suhoor) along with the baking of ‘Kleichas’, a rose flavoured biscuit containing lots of nuts and dates, which are also both countries’ national cookie.
- In Yemen – ‘Bint al sahn’ is the preferred sweet; in England, we might recognise it more as honey cake topped with nigella seeds.
- In Russia, China and Bangladesh - in contrast, a savoury treat is preferred with the Russians indulging in ‘Manti’ a form of dumpling, stuffed with seasoned meat; in China gifting and eating ‘You Xiang’ (flour, water and yeast patties fried in oil), and a Korma and savoury pittas being consumed in Bangladesh.
At ACS, we love a celebration with a social purpose and especially one that involves food. We will mark the occasion internally by sharing a recipe or two enjoyed by some of our very own ACS colleagues during Eid.
*PBUH = Peace be upon him. A term of respect used by Muslims when referring to the Prophet Mohammed.