Ramadan Background

What you need to
know about Eid:

Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are the two largest holidays for Muslims. Join in on the celebration. Eid Mubarak!

A tale of two Eids

The Islamic calendar has two major holidays each year. The first is Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and celebrates an entire month of fasting. The second is Eid al-Adha, the festival of the sacrifice that occurs during the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage season. It takes place two lunar months after Ramadan. Each Eid celebrates a spiritual renewal after a period of sacrifice and devotion.

Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr occurs at the end of Ramadan. After an entire month of fasting and extra prayer, Muslims are sad to bid Ramadan and its spiritual atmosphere good-bye, but also excited to celebrate their efforts with a holiday.

The festivities begin early on Eid day with the traditional takbeerat and communal prayers. Celebrants show up in their loveliest clothing to pray together, embrace all of their friends, and wish each other “Eid mubarak.” After Eid prayer, specific ways of celebrating vary across a plethora of Muslim cultures, but whether it’s knafeh or donuts, you can be sure that there will be lots of feasting on delicious foods, exchanging gifts, and quality time spent together with family and community.

Feast Celebration
Kaabah - where muslim perform Hajj pilgrimage

Eid al-Adha

This Eid occurs during the Hajj season and commemorates the sacrifices and devotion of Abraham (peace be upon him) and his family. Eid al-Adha coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage, where pilgrims from around the world follow the rituals of Abraham, like circling the Ka’bah (the Grand Mosque in Makkah) which he originally built.

Eid al-Adha also reminds us of the devotion of Abraham and his son Ishmael as they surrendered themselves to God’s Will and, as a result, were beautifully rewarded.

(Abraham) said, ‘My son, I have had a dream that I must sacrifice you. What do you think of this?’

He replied, ‘Father, fulfill whatever you are commanded to do and you will find me patient, by the will of God.’

So when they both submitted…We called out to him, saying, ‘O Abraham! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good.’

Most surely this was a manifest trial..surely he was one of Our believing servants.

Qur’an, 37:102-111

On this day, it’s customary for those with wealth to sacrifice a sheep or other animal, as Abraham did in place of his son, and donate the meat to those in need.

After that, those at home celebrate similarly to Eid al-Fitr—with morning prayers, gifts, food, and festivities—while those at Hajj continue on with the rites of pilgrimage.

What’s the difference?

Eid al-Fitr

The one where people fast from before sunrise to sunset for 30ish days.

  • Happens at the end of Ramadan

  • Commemorates a month of fasting

  • Celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar

  • Lots of good food

  • Lots of fun and festivities

Eid al-Adha

The one where people make Hajj and sacrifice a cow or sheep to feed their community and those in need.

  • Happens during the Hajj season

  • Commemorates the piety of Abraham

  • Celebrated on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar

  • Lots of good food

  • Lots of fun and festivities

Frequently asked questions

When is Eid?

It changes each year! The Islamic calendar runs on lunar months, which shift slightly over time. In 2022, Eid al-Fitr will take place on May 2nd and Eid al-Adha on July 10th. These dates are tentative until the sighting of the new moon at the start of each month.

Is that why my work colleagues don’t always know which days to take off of work?

Yes, many Muslims will wait until they are completely certain of the date of each Eid before requesting time off to ensure that they can celebrate properly with their friends and family.

Do schools give students the day off on Eid?

It all depends on where you live, of course. Eid is a nationally recognized holiday in many countries around the world. That isn’t currently the case in the United States, and some students have trouble taking the time off that they need to spend these special days celebrating.

How long does Eid last? Is it just one day?

Eid al-Fitr lasts for one day, while Eid al-Adha extends for four days.

So what are some traditions during Eid? How is it celebrated?

There’s a wide array of Eid traditions around the world. One universal is the morning Eid prayer. After that, you might find people attending festivals, older relatives passing younger relatives money, families hosting feasts, friends visiting each other, children opening gifts, and more.

Can I join in the celebrations and visit my Muslim friends on Eid?

Of course—ask your friends what their Eid plans are; many will dine out at restaurants, host a gathering, or attend an Eid festival. The more the merrier!

I can’t visit but I’d like to wish my friends a happy Eid. Is there a specific way to say that?

The traditional greeting is “Eid Mubarak,” which translates to “Have a blessed Eid.” Your friends will always appreciate “Happy Eid” as well!

I’ve heard that Eid is Muhammad’s birthday. Is that correct?

No, neither Eid holiday is related to the birthday of any prophet.

Gotcha. So what’s the purpose of Eid? What exactly is being celebrated?

Eid al-Fitr occurs at the end of Ramadan, and it’s all about celebrating the month of fasting and the spiritual lessons that were learned during that time.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the piety of Abraham. Islam places great value in the actions and contributions of all of the prophets, from Adam to Moses to Jesus and all of those in between, and this Eid offers a specific way to celebrate a deep spiritual lesson from one of these prophets.