Early in April 2024, the new moon was sighted at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, signifying the start of Eid al-Fitr for close to two billion Muslims worldwide.

Eid al-Fitr, or lesser Eid, marks the close of the period of fasting during daylight hours and Muslims are able to celebrate a successful Ramadan and express their gratitude to Allah with this festival.

Despite Britain’s status as a Christian country, the UK boasts a religiously diverse population and is home to millions of Muslims nationally.

Tasnim Curtis, Senior Lecturer at the University of Winchester, explained how she and her family traditionally celebrate Eid: “We get up before the dawn breaks and you put on your best clothes, just like you would do for any celebration. Then, after the usual morning prayer, fajr, we do the Eid prayer: in an ideal world, our whole family would go to the mosque and do it there. After these prayers, we break our fasts with a date. Traditionally we celebrate Eid for 3 days.”

As with the majority of religious festivals, food is a central component of Eid celebrations for Muslim families. However, food has a special place within Eid as the fast of Ramadan has just ended and families come together to share food and celebrate. Particular foods are traditionally enjoyed at this time, as Mrs Curtis described:

“We tend to break our fasts with a special date filled with almond paste with vark on top, a fine silver paper. There’s also a traditional drink that we make, called sheer khuma which is a milk drink with very fine vermicelli – it’s really satiating and nutritious. The food tends to be quite high in calories, which is what you want after 30 days fasting!”

Another key part of making Eid a time of special celebration is the giving of Eidi to children.

Traditionally, this is a gift of money from parent to child, however Mrs Curtis explained how this idea had modernised in some places and that some receive presents instead of money.

Despite this shift in some families, one aspect of giving at Eid remains constant, which is that some money is always set aside as a charitable donation.

Due to Britain’s official Christianity as a nation, however, there can be some challenges when it comes to work and education.

As Eid is dictated by the lunar calendar, where is falls each year can vary, but more often than not, the festival does not align with school or work holidays. Mrs Curtis explains how she and her family navigate these situations:

“I think, now, places of work are more understanding that it’s Eid and you can get the day off, but it’s not a given like it would be at Christmas or New Years. If something really important comes up, the chances are I might not be able to get that day off and our Eid celebrations would have to be delayed until the following weekend.”

As the 2024 Eid al-Fitr celebrations have come to a close, the Muslim calendar is still packed with important festivals in the coming months. Eid al-Adha, or greater Eid, is to take place in mid-June, at which time tens of thousands of Muslims will be completing the sacred pilgrimage – the Hajj.

  • This article was written by  Esther Draper from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.