When is Eid 2023? Date of Eid al-Fitr marking end of Ramadan, Eid Mubarak wishes explained - and prayer times

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Eid al-Fitr is a joyous celebration to mark the end of the Islamic 30-day fasting month, Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr, meaning ‘Feast of Breaking the Fast’ in English, is one of the two official holidays in Islam and is enjoyed by 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. The festival marks the end of the Islamic month, Ramadan, where Muslims dry fast during sunlight hours for 30 days.

Eid is predicted to take place on 21 April and celebrated with gifts or sweets. This Eid is also known as lesser Eid or just Eid, as Eid celebrations typically last only for three days, one day less than the other official Eid - Eid al-Adha.

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But what are the customs behind Eid al-Fitr and how is it celebrated? Here’s what you need to know.

When is Eid al-Fitr 2023?

In the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr always falls on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this day goes forward every year by 10-11 days, as the start of any Islamic month begins on the new crescent moon when sighted by religious authorities. This makes it an moveable feast.

In 2023, Eid al-Fitr will fall on Friday 21 April to Saturday 22 April. However, dates depend on the new moon, as Ramadan typically never lasts longer than 30 days - as the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. Around the world, teams of moon-sighters scan the sky with telescopes and binoculars, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive crescent moon.

As the new Moon’s visibility depends on clear skies and other factors, the exact date of Muslim holidays cannot be predicted with certainty or too far in advance. The holiday may also fall on different dates according to a country’s longitude and time zone. Depending on their country, religious orientation, or cultural affiliation, some Muslims may, therefore, celebrate the holiday typically one day earlier than others.

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In the UK, Ramadan began on 22 March this year at sunset. The end of the fasting month is signalled by the sighting of the next crescent moon, which occurs between the 29th and 30th day of the holy month. Scholars will search for the moon on the 29th of the month, which is Thursday (April 20) for those who began fasting on 23 March, and Friday for those who began Ramadan a day later like in India and Bangladesh.

This Eid was originated by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, where, according to traditions, when the Prophet arrived in Medina, after migrating from Mecca, he noted the locals celebrating two specific days. These two days formed the basis of the two Eids in Islam: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Thai Muslims release hundred of balloons after a morning prayer marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-fitrThai Muslims release hundred of balloons after a morning prayer marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-fitr
Thai Muslims release hundred of balloons after a morning prayer marking the start of the Islamic feast of Eid al-fitr | Photo by Chumsak Kanoknan/Getty Images

How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated around the world?

As this day is a religious celebration, this Eid begins with a salat (prayer). The salat, which is only two rakats (units) long, can only be performed in a congregation usually in an open field or a large hall. After the prayers, Muslims celebrate in various ways, with rich, sweet food and family celebrations being the central themes. With the emphasis on food, this Eid is also known as Sweet Eid or Sugar Feast.

Many people adorn themselves in their finest clothes, and many women apply henna on their hands to mark the celebration. However, across the world, Muslims celebrate Eid differently - all with a central theme of food.

In Turkey, a secular country with a majority of Muslims, holidays celebrated nationwide are known as Bayram. Eid al-Fitr is referred to as Ramadan Bayrami, meaning Bayram of Sweets/Sugar. Children go door-to-door and wish everyone a “Happy Bayram” for which they are awarded traditional sweets such as baklava and Turkish Delight.

People in Palestine and Jordan will adorn their homes and buy new clothes and shoes for the celebrations.

In Tunisia, Eid is celebrated for three days, two of which are national holidays. Children traditionally receive money and toys.

Elaborate banquets with dishes such as xalwo and buskut are served in the Islamic regions of Somalia, and in Sudan, as preparations for Eid are completed days in advance.

The night before Eid is known as Chandraat, in Pakistan, where women adorn their hands in henna during this time. People also give to charity, and enjoy a special breakfast with different types of sweets and desserts, such as kheer (rice pudding).

In New York City, public schools remain closed on Eid. In Argentina, Eid is a non-working holiday for Muslims.

What are the prayer times?

Prayers usually take place at a mosque but can also be held outside. The technical appointed time for prayers begins when the sun reaches approximately three metres above the horizon.

And while the Eid al-Fitr celebrations can start with prayers at dawn, more generally the recommendation is for them to be offered in the morning anytime after sunrise and before noon.

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