What is Eid al-Fitr? When The Muslim Festival Is Celebrated

Muslims around the world are about to mark the end of their most religious month, Ramadan.

Once this most crucial of Islamic responsibilities has been completed, followers of Islam will immediately start getting ready for the joyous and eagerly anticipated celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

But people who are not practicing Muslims may not understand the intricacies of this occasion.

So when exactly is Eid al-Fitr 2022 and how is the Muslim festival celebrated?

Middle Eastern Suhoor or Iftar meal
Middle Eastern Suhoor or Iftar meal. Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday in many Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates Rawpixel/Getty Images

What is Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr is a time when people celebrate the accomplishment of ending the fast of Ramadan, known in Islam as Sawm.

Ramadan is widely recognized as one of the most challenging religious duties for Muslims and one of the five pillars of Islam.

Tahera Qutbuddin, author and University of Chicago professor of Arabic Literature, told Newsweek: "The feast of Eid al Fitr follows the fasting month of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Fitr literally means 'breaking the fast'.

"For Muslims, it is a time of great celebration and joy, and a time of prayer and thanksgiving.

"Worshipers gather in the thousands in mosques and prayer spaces around the world on the morning of Eid al-Fitr.

"They collectively chant praise to God, Allahu Akbar, 'God is great.' They beseech God for his blessings, especially the blessing of food: fasting, according to Muslim savants, brings home the keen awareness of the life-sustaining blessing of food.

Lantern and a copper crescent shape on
Lantern and a copper crescent shape on a satin cloth. Eid ul Fitr traditions vary from country to country trafawma/Getty Images

How Is Eid al-Fitr Celebrated?

Eid al-Fitr always takes place during the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, known as Shawwal.

While the celebration predominately lasts for three days, this has been known to vary by community and which day of the week this falls on.

Because the Islamic calendar follows the cycle of the Moon as opposed to the Sun, the holiday is constantly in flux.

As a result, Eid al-Fitr this year will fall on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

However, it is important to note that while Muslims in the U.S. may observe Eid al-Fitr at that time, PBS adds other countries may mark Eid al-Fitr on slightly different dates.

This is because Muslims begin Eid al-Fitr after seeing the crescent Moon on the last day of Ramadan, which does not appear on the same day around the globe.

Muslim friend and family laughing together while
Muslim friends and family laughing together while having lunch together at home during Eid al-Fitr 2022. Eid al Fitr is a joyous occasion ferlistockphoto/Getty Images

What Happens During Eid al-Fitr 2022?

Eid al-Fitr is widely recognised to be a time of abundance, and not only with things relating to food.

Muslims often exchange gifts of money, flower and even practical day-to-day items.

Believers also wear their very best clothes when congregating in communal prayer at mosques or other large outdoor locations before the sun rises during Eid al-Fitr.

And as well as wishing each other "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid) and "Eid sa'id" (Happy Eid), Professor Qutbuddin notes there is another passage used to mark this happiest time.

She said: "As part of the Eid al Fitr supplications, Muslims frequently recite the verse articulating Jesus's prayer in the Quran."

This reads "Allah! Lord! Send down to us a laden table from the heavens that it may be a feast for us, the first and the last of us, and a sign from you.

"'Give us sustenance, for you are the Best of Sustainers" (Quran Ma'idah 5:114)."

Illustration of illuminated lamp
Illustration of illuminated lamp during Eid. The Quran actively forbids fasting on Eid al-Fitr vectomart/Getty Images