No matter what the weather, no matter how tasty the Eid breakfast, no matter how well I felt my Ramadan went, for many years after I converted to Islam, I followed the same old Eid pattern.
Wake up. Pray fajr (morning prayer). Eat breakfast. Go to Eid Prayer.
Then I, my husband or both of us, would go to school or work. It was anti-climactic at best.
After a month of character building, spiritual highs and building a better relationship with the Quran, it was always right back to pre-Ramadan business as usual, hoping to keep the lessons and increased faith as we exited the month un-commemorated.
Until one year, I said enough! I put my foot down and didn’t go into work. I took the day off of school and insisted my husband do the same. Guess what happened?
No, the world didn’t fall apart. No, we didn’t fail our classes. We actually enjoyed ourselves.
We spent time to acknowledge what Ramadan meant to us and to celebrate our successes in it. And because of our celebration we felt more Muslim somehow. We felt closer to our community. We felt better prepared to move on and face the challenges of life outside of Ramadan.
In the Western world where few even know what Eid is, it is very difficult to get out of day to day commitments to celebrate the holiday or rather the holy day. It is even more difficult to have that holiday feeling when those around you are treating the day like any other ordinary day.
As converts, we have to give up a lot of our old holidays when we come into Islam. Giving up holidays where everyone is celebrating and everything is decorated can be difficult.
Many of us treasure our holiday memories and family traditions. But as Muslim we are not left with nothing in the place of our old tradition. As converts we can and must make new traditions and create a holiday feeling for ourselves.
As the air becomes crisp and trees lose their leaves, something strange begins to happen in the West.
It commences with people young and old donning garb that might land them in the loony bin any other time of year; sporting baggage that would never make it past the most lax airport security checkpoint; and painting their faces- for one of two purposes- begging for candy or to go parading off to parties and bars.
But, then about a month later, everyone gathers with their kinfolk for awkward, sometimes annoying, and downright passive aggressive conversations while eating to the point of contemplating a trip to the ER for a quick stomach pump. Yes, turkey and stuffing can be that good.
But, then yet another month after that, folks ritually go out and kill a tree so they can drag it into their homes and fill it with lights and baubles. This dead tree will be the epicenter around which presents bought on borrowed money will be shared all while claiming an immortal fat man from an uninhabitable part of earth brought them.
Welcome to the holiday season. There is so much hype and pomp that goes along with it that Muslims often feel drawn to participate in the “cheer”. But why celebrate these holidays when we have the two Eids that can be as cheerful?
But when you live in the West, the Eids pale in comparison to the blow outs the non-Muslims celebrate.
What are our Eid traditions?
1. We wake up. Dress up. Go to the Eid prayer.
2. We may or may not stay for the khutbah (lecture) after.
3. We may or may not go and have breakfast.
4. Since we are in the West and the Eids are not recognized as national holidays, it is highly likely that we will have to rush off to work or school at some point.
Even though the morning is filled with activities, the rest of the day falls flat like a bad souffle (not that I have ever made a souffle).
When I first converted to Islam and for several Eids after, I was bummed that Eid seemed like weak sauce compared to the holiday celebrations I had left behind. It seemed like the entire country glowed around the major holidays, but when the Eids came around, sure there would be tons of congrats exchanged at prayer, but then the Eid outfits would come off and the workaday clothes would come back on. And it was back to the daily grind almost instantly.
But then I decided that if I wanted Eid to be special, then I needed to make it special.
If each Muslim family, individual, or community made their Eid special for themselves and told those around them what Eid is, then Eid would be special. What is stopping us? Do we really need department stores to tell us to celebrate by having a holiday sale? Do we have to be reminded by a hallmark commercial that Eid is time for happiness?
Are we waiting for big corporations to commercialize our holidays? Are we waiting for community events or our bosses to ask you if we want Eid off (it will likely never happen)?
Let’s make the Eids special for our families and communities so that we don’t feel cheated out of holiday happiness. Celebrate your holidays. Take the Eids off. Keep the kids home from school. Make memories. Make it something to look forward too.
Decorate the house. Play games with the family. Make special dishes that everyone loves. Send gifts to your neighbors (if they don’t know what Eid is, then tell them).
And husbands, don’t sit back on the couch while your wife runs around making Eid merry. Get off your butt, and make Eid merry with her!
Download free decorations for your home here or click on the pic below:
Have activities for the whole family. Clickity click here.
Make something tasty for your loved ones. Try some traditional Eastern Eid dishes (recipes here) or make your own fav comfort foods.
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