Eid-al-Fitr, the festival which marks the end of Ramadan, is celebrated by Muslims across the world following a month of fasting.
On Eid day, after the morning prayer, Muslims commonly visit various family and friends. However, during lockdown, many festivities, including Eid, were restricted. Thankfully, with restrictions fully lifted, Eid festivities, this year, will be back in full swing – but have the trends of celebrating with family changed over the years, especially among younger Muslims?
Traditionally, Eid celebrations tended to start with cooking lavish meals and traditional kheer, and giving out Eidi (gift of money) to young children, which would be enjoyed with family at home or visiting relatives’ in their homes. However over the years the scene seems to be changing with more young men driving around in their flashy cars and restaurants bustling on an evening with groups of young women posing for their selfies, while dressed up in their glittering Eid clothes as they tuck into their food. So has the tradition of celebrating with family changed to a more commercial night out with friends?
Well, a poll on Instagram, where nearly two dozen participants responded, found that 81% of people still prefer to celebrate Eid with family. While 5% would rather spend it with friends. With 14% preferring to divide their celebration among friends and family.
Ayesha Imran, 20, a student at the University of Huddersfield, told Asian Standard, “The best part of celebrating Eid is getting together with family. When I was younger, I would see my cousins often. However, growing older means we are so invested in our lives that we don’t get the time to see each other”.
Organic Executive at Embryo, Nafisah Atcha, agrees with Ayesha. The 31-year-old believes spending time with both friends and family, regardless of age, is special. She said, “I cannot speak for young people, but I think Eid will be more intimate and less lavish now”.
It is quite common for South Asians and people of similar backgrounds to value family more than anything else. The older generations have emphasised the importance of keeping familial relations between extended members of the family. This has often been shown during the festivity of Eid, in which Eid is solely about visiting and celebrating with family. Different types of food would be cooked at home, the children would get Eidi, or gifts, and the parents would have a chance to catch up with each other. The family values bestowed upon the younger generation may have affected how and with whom they like to spend Eid.
Mariya Khalil, a student at Bradford College, said that as you get older, you start to appreciate the intimacy of spending time with family.
The 18-year-old confesses, “I think that while you’re younger, you want to spend more time with friends just because you’re always with your family. But as you get older you like to spend more time with family because you appreciate the tiny moments”.
Imran, 20, agrees, “I feel like culture has played a big part in just celebrating with family. Growing up, that is all I heard – Eid means to go to your family’s house. However, I do believe that the new generation is ready to break the norms and change who you celebrate Eid with and how Eid is celebrated”
“I don’t know about young people, I don’t want to generalise, but for me, it’s always been family before friends. That’s the way we’ve had it as a family”.
NHS Involvement Officer, Huma Malik, too believes times are changing and Eid is becoming more sociable outside of the house.
Over the years, there has been an increase in car hires, food places opening, catering companies offering special Eid packages and other outdoor activities becoming available for Eid celebrations. It can be said with more options, there has been a slight drift in how Eid is now celebrated, with less people choosing to spend time in the kitchen and instead pre-ordering their food from the local caterer, to going out and celebrate at either play centres, restaurants, shisha lounges or enjoying other recreational activities.
Malik said: “I know some of my friends will meet, potentially on an evening. A lot of my friends don’t, they spend it with their family and then we’ll also meet on a later day”.
18-year-old Khalil agrees with Huma. He said: “I know friends who like to go out to the cinemas in the evening. So many places are now open, and it is a nicer choice to just celebrate Eid either at the park or play centre for children, instead of everyone being cooped up at home. You can still enjoy your family’s company while having fun. It also keeps the children busy and entertained”, says Khalil, 18.
Khalil also believes that despite there being more options to go out and celebrate with friends, the impact of Covid has also made some, prefer to stay at home and celebrate with family and relatives
“I think Eid will be more intimate this year. In Covid, the restrictions meant only being allowed to spend time with a limited amount of people. My family live in Bradford so it was easy to communicate with them. However, others may have families living in London or Birmingham and they might make more of an effort to see each other after not being able to see them for the last two years”. Added the student.
Huma agrees with Khalil. She said: “I think Covid has made a big difference this past couple of years. This is the first Eid outside of the whole lockdown and restrictions. This time last year, we still had restrictions, so I think this year it’s going to make a massive difference to people, in terms of doing more and gathering in groups.
“I think a lot more people are looking forward to Eid but at the same time, I know a lot of people are dreading it.”
Throughout the years, the celebration of Eid has changed. From the older generation wanting to keep family ties stronger and enjoy home-cooked food, to the younger Muslims wanting to create a more fun atmosphere through outdoor activities.
How will you be celebrating, family, friends or both? Whatever you choose – Eid Mubarak