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What Is Eid and What Happens on the Day?

Even if you’re uninitiated in the customs of Islam, you’re probably aware of Ramadan and Eid (the celebration at its conclusion). In the West, “Eid” is often used as shorthand for “Eid al-Fitr”. But there are two main Eid festivals in the Islamic calendar:

  • Eid al-Fitr: Known as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. It lasts for three days.
  • Eid al-Adha: Known as the “Festival of Sacrifice”, Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God. It falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth and final month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

Both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are times for Muslims to come together in prayer, celebrate with family and friends, exchange gifts and give to charity.

What is the date of Eid al-Fitr?

The date of Eid al-Fitr is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, which is based on the first sighting of the moon. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, immediately following the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

The exact date of Eid al-Fitr can vary depending on the sighting of the moon, as it is traditionally determined by physically sighting the moon as it rises. Muslims around the world typically look to their local religious authorities or mosque leaders to announce the official date of Eid al-Fitr based on the moon sighting method. 

Because the lunar year is based on twelve orbits of the moon around the earth, and each orbit effectively takes about 29 or 30 days, a lunar year has 354 or 355 days. That means that Eid is 10 or 11 days earlier each year compared to the Gregorian (365/366-day) calendar. Eid can therefore be in spring, summer, autumn or winter. For the next few years it will be in mid–late spring with the approximate dates being:

  • 2024: 9 April
  • 2025: 30 March
  • 2026: 19 March
  • 2027: 10 March
  • 2028: 26 February

Why “approximate”? Well, the celebrations start at the first sighting of the moon, which isn’t necessarily at midnight. So part of that 24-hour day will still be in Ramadan. Also, it varies from country to country, and even within single countries, depending on precise location. Some Muslims start to celebrate when the moon is sighted from Mecca, and some won’t break fast until sunset on the first day of Shawwal.

What happens on Eid al-Fitr?

On a typical Eid al-Fitr day, Muslims around the world engage in various religious and festive activities as the day progresses. The exact traditions and customs may vary depending on cultural practices and regional customs, but here are some common activities that take place on Eid al-Fitr.

Eating dates before prayers

Many Muslims will eat dates before morning prayers, as fasting is officially over.

Giving Zakat al-Fitr

Muslims are encouraged to give a special donation known as Zakat al-Fitr before the Eid prayer. This charity is given to help those in need and ensure that everyone can enjoy the Eid festivities.

Morning prayers

Eid prayers, known as Salat al-Eid, are performed in congregations at mosques, open fields or designated prayer spaces. These prayers are considered a key aspect of the Eid celebrations and are led by an imam or religious leader. It is customary to take a different route coming home to that taken on the way to prayers.

Greetings and well-wishes

After the Eid prayers, Muslims greet each other by saying “Eid Mubarak” or “Happy Eid” as a way of spreading joy and goodwill on this special day.

Family gatherings

Families often come together to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, sharing meals, exchanging gifts and enjoying each other’s company. Special festive foods and traditional dishes are prepared for the occasion.


Muslim families will invariably make tables full of food, which will last for days. Any non-Muslim who works with a Muslim will no doubt have benefited from the fact that they always make far too much, and need to share it out after the celebrations! There are no rules about what can be eaten during Eid, but people tend to eat the foods passed down through their family heritage, regardless of where they live today. 

Traditional sweets and desserts are a key tradition, adding to the festivities and delighting the taste buds of those celebrating. 


It’s customary to take a bath or have a shower (making ghusl) on Eid. In the modern world, people generally bathe or shower every day anyway, but bathing on Eid has special significance.

Wearing new or best clothes

Muslims will often buy new clothes to wear especially for the Eid celebrations. There is no obligation to do this, but the best clothing will certainly come out of the wardrobe on this special day. Wearing a fragrance is also a festive tradition.

Visiting relatives and friends

It is common for Muslims to visit relatives, friends and neighbours to exchange greetings and celebrate together. These visits provide an opportunity to strengthen social ties, share the joy of Eid, and spread goodwill among the community.

Festive activities

Throughout the day, there may be various festive activities and events organised in local communities, such as fairs, concerts and cultural performances. These activities add to the atmosphere and offer opportunities for socialising with the whole community.

Giving gifts

It is customary for people to give gifts, especially to children, as a way of expressing love and generosity during Eid. 

Overall, Eid al-Fitr is a time of joy, gratitude and unity for the Muslim community, with people coming together to celebrate the completion of Ramadan and the blessings of the holy month. After a month of fasting, which can be quite a struggle when it falls during the long summer days in the far north and south, Eid is a joyous release, as well as a chance for Muslims to celebrate and observe their faith.