In my family, we have a holiday tradition of baking and decorating cut-out sugar cookies. Baking day is my most favorite time of the year because it is the only time me and my three sisters get along. We spend the whole day working together, mixing tons of dough, rolling it out, baking it, whipping up an array of colored frostings, and decorating glorious confections.
Eid! Who knew three letters could pack such a punch.
What does it mean to a lot of people? Well, for some it conjures up memories of seeing loved ones, going to early prayer at the mosque and eating certain traditional sweets.
Unfortunately for many converts, who grew up celebrating different holidays, we may not feel as connected to this happy occasion. We may still painfully cling to lingering images of our own childhood, collecting colorful eggs in baskets or throwing tinsel and garlands on trees, and you know what … that is okay.
It is normal to psychologically associate feelings with memories triggered by events as these- times when we were closest to our families. We do our best to try and create new memories that can also similarly capture the feel good events of our past- whether with new Muslim friends, new spouses or growing families.
And so we celebrate these Muslim holidays sometimes hesitant, not wanting to create bid’ah ( Also know as innovation in religion. Bid’ah in Islam is considered a deviation and a serious sin) and yet only familiar to celebrating holidays in a certain fashion, the way in which we were raised.
One area new to many converts that begin to mingle with Muslims outside of their culture is the Eastern cultural practice of Eidia or Eidie. Eidia is money that is handed to women or children during Eid that can range from a few cents to hundreds of dollars and is given as a gift instead of an actual present wrapped in ribbons and bows.
Generally reserved for family including extended family members- depending on the culture it may also include neighborhood children that visit houses door to door wishing happy Eid in exchange for a few cents.
For new converts, depending on their own cultural upbringing, it can be strange to see people pass out money- generally, much effort and consideration is put into finding a loved one an actual object that we believe may be cherished or enjoyed.
In fact, in many circles handing out money may be seen as kind of insulting– a kind of whoops, we forgot about you – so here is some cash or the awkward … don’t know you so well third cousin, once removed, here, have a gift card.
This “cash-as-an-after-thought present” is not the perception in many Eastern cultures where the extra money can be used not only in the purchase of the rare indulgent treat of choice, but more often than not, as money that can be used to fulfill a basic need (such as paying an electric bill) or fulfill other social obligation … such as giving your Eidie money or Eidia to someone younger or more in need than yourself.
However you chose to celebrate the upcoming holiday, sharing tokens of friendship and kindness that puts happiness in the heart of another Muslim is always a good deed pleasing to Allah.
So if you are a converts, don’t look down on someone who is handing out cash. If you are a born Muslims, understand the consideration that went into a finding the right gift, if it is not cash.
However you decide to spread cheer, whether you choose to do that through passing homemade sweets, treating another with a thoughtfully wrapped gift, passing out Eidia or just sending smiles, salams and a “Happy Eid”, it always tends to make the season bright.
This Eid let’s take time to reflect, be grateful for what we have been blessed with, praise Allah, and enjoy.
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