Fast, Pray, Give: An Introduction to Eid

March 30, 2021

Fast, Pray, Give: An Introduction to Eid

As a gifting holiday rich with tradition we are curious to learn more about the Muslim holiday of Eid, or Eid al-Fitr. We asked friends Julie and Tarek Alkatout, founders of Eidna Cheer, for an introduction to Ramadan, Eid and the joyful traditions that bond family and community in devotion and celebration throughout. We met Julie and Tarek years ago when we helped bring their vision of Eid and Ramadan specific wrapping papers to life for their shop, Eidna Cheer, and have enjoyed being connected since via Instagram and production runs. 

From their home in Minnesota, the Alkatouts share a basic understanding of the holiday, as well as some very sweet personal ways they bring the holiday to life with their children. Read on to learn more about Eid with us…

Ramadan Calendar

What is the holiday of Eid all about?
There are two Eid holidays that Muslims celebrate, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast (no eating or drinking) between dawn and sunset. Ramadan is a time of reflection, renewal and deepening connection to God, as well as connections to family and friends. While adults fast, children are taught about the importance of doing good deeds and giving to others. Muslims traditionally gather at sunset to break the fast together. Evenings are often festive as we savor great food followed by night prayers.

Ramadan Mubarak Kitchen Decor

Eid al-Fitr continues this festivity with renewed energy now that we can eat (and drink coffee) during the daylight hours. In the morning Muslims gather for prayer, then celebrate with breakfast and festivals that communities organize with artists offering intricate henna tattoos, bounce houses for the kids, and the like. It is traditional for aunts, uncles, grandparents, other relatives and family friends to give children money and gifts on the Eid holidays. This is called Eidiyah

Eid Money Envelopes

A unique aspect about Eid al-Fitr is that it occurs about 11 days earlier every year because it is marked by the lunar calendar.

Listen: How to pronounce Eid Al-Fitr

What type of decorations are used for Eid? 

Traditional decorations for Ramadan and Eid are lanterns, moons, stars, string lights, string pom poms, and tassels. Calligraphy of Arabic script is also part of many decorations saying Ramadan Mubarak, Eid Mubarak (meaning Blessed Ramadan or Eid). 

Eid Al-Fitr Decorations and Gifts

Children craft paper lanterns and hang them in the house. We have string lights shaped like lanterns. The colors we use for Eid are blue and silver, but others can be used. An Egyptian friend shared that red and green are theme colors in Egypt. One blogger out there is trying to establish purple as the Eid color. 

Eid Al-Fitr Crafts - Candles, Paper Lanterns, & Flower Baskets

We make moon and star-shaped sugar cookies and decorate them. We also have cookie cutters shaped as mosques, lanterns, and camels. The kids have a lot of fun with this. I traditionally bake baklava (learned from my mother-in-law) which we give to neighbors, family, and friends. The kids like to make cards for the family. 

Making Eid Cookies and Snacks for Ramadan Celebrations

What are some of your family’s Eid traditions?

Our children track the month of Ramadan using a wall calendar made by their grandmother. They see that certain days are different colors which indicate a gift day. We give small gifts on the first day, 15th day, and 27th day (this day is selected to observe the "night of power,” which is thought to be the night the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad.) Larger gifts are given on the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Eid gifts for kids - Ramadan books

We track good deeds that the children do throughout the month. We put a tree branch in a vase by the window and craft paper flowers in bright colors and keep them in a jar next to the branch. Each time they do a good deed, the children get to attach a flower to the branch. Throughout the month, they see how their actions make the tree flourish with beautiful flowers. We have a jar with ideas of good deeds, like calling their grandmother, shoveling snow for a neighbor, or packing food donations.

On Eid, we meet with extended family for morning prayer at the mosque. Before the congregational prayer, the religious leader (imam) gives a lesson called a khutba (like a sermon in church). One of the major messages we always hear is to make our Eid holiday special for our kids, that we should take the day off from work and school, give gifts, celebrate and make wonderful memories together. After going out for breakfast we gather at home to open gifts. We've extended the giving tradition to adults, as well. Afterwards we go do a fun activity together as a family.

Because of the lunar calendar the holiday shifts throughout the seasons making each celebration unique. When our 15 year old son was little, we celebrated Eid by going to the apple orchard, a very fun Minnesota tradition in the fall. When the holiday happens in summer we have backyard BBQs with outdoor movies. Last year Eid was in spring, so we took the kids to the Zoo and enjoyed being outside after a long winter.

When Tarek was growing up in the Middle East they had three days off from school, it was their tradition to spend the time visiting aunt and uncle's homes throughout the days and at night everyone would gather for dinner festivities. In Minnesota today, some school districts are implementing a day off for Eid, which is very exciting to see. We've had the kids miss school as an excused absence for Eid, but it will be much more equitable when they don't need to miss instruction to observe their religious holiday.

Tell us about Eidna Cheer!

As a Muslim American mom of three, I love to make our holidays special for our family and community. After several years of searching for representative gift wrap designed for the gifts we give during Ramadan and Eid, I decided to create it myself! 

EidnaCheer at Community Craft Bazaar

As a scientist by training and profession, creating this gift wrap gave me a new outlet for innovation and attention to detail. My Ramadan Mubarak wrap pattern, for example, artistically portrays an entire year of lunar phases with the ninth phase highlighted to represent the month of Ramadan. Our designs are whimsical and fun while being meaningful. 

EidnaCheer Etsy Shop - Buy Eco-Friendly Eid and Ramadan Gift Wrap
Sustainability is core to my values and I didn't want to create unnecessary waste or exhaust limited resources. I collaborated with amazing women to make this happen, and I'm proud to provide gift wrap that is both eco-friendly and festive for our holidays. Through our collaboration with Wrappily, our gift wrap is made of recycled paper, printed with soy ink, and is fully compostable. I hope to add to the joy of your family's celebration this year with Eidna Cheer gift wrap! 

Julie Alkatout of EidnaCheer

Many thanks to Julie and Tarek Alkatout of Eidna Cheer for sharing more about the Ramadan and Eid holidays with us and sharing their family’s stories.