Id al-Fitr Festival
The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast
Immediately on the conclusion of Ramadan there commences one of the two major feasts of Islam, appropriately called the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, Id al-Fitr in Arabic. It takes place on the first day of Shawal, the tenth month of the Muslim year.
It is a most joyous occasion, mainly for two reasons. A strenuous period has come to an end and the faithful are sure that, as God has promised, they will be rewarded on the day of judgment for having observed the fast. The moment the new moon is in the sky, indicating the beginning of the feast, people congratulate and wish each other a "joyful festival."
Preparations for the holy day begin days beforehand. Houses are decorated and Id greeting cards sent out to members of the family and to friends. Special food is cooked in advance and money is distributed among the poor, lest they miss out on the celebration.
On the day itself, the faithful don new clothes, visit each other and the graves of their loved ones, exchange presents and aware of their social obligation, give food to the poor. They gather in mosques and in public places for special Id prayers.
Significantly, Islam's prohibition of alcoholic drink does not diminish the genuine happiness that this festival brings to its participants.