Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid Mubarak!

The new moon has been sighted so tomorrow is Eid ul-Fitr (The Festival of Breaking Fast), the first of the two Muslim festivals celebrated by all Muslims across the world. After having spent an entire month going without food and drink from sunrise to sunset, we celebrate God's Blessing and Mercy upon us for providing us with food and allowing us to eat whenever we want to for the rest of the year.

Less fortunate Muslims are not forgotten, and it is compulsory for those who can afford it, that the head of every Muslim household donates a certain amount of money/food for each member of his/her family to poorer families. It's basically a socially distributed tax, that people pay directly to those who need it most. If people don't know who to give it to, then they can donate it to a mosque which will then distribute it to those who need it most.

How Eid is celebrated varies from country to country - but one thing remains common to almost all Muslim societies: People Meet Up. In most Muslim societies this means going to see family and calling in on neighbours and catching up. In non-Muslim societies, where Muslims may or may not have family in the same country, Muslims often try to gather together, either informally (BBQs, dinner parties, etc) or more formally (arranged by/at a local mosque / community centre).

Presents may be exchanged - but it's not the main focus, is not very prevalent and they are usually given to kids from parents, etc.

Cakes, however, are a big deal. Seriously. It's now gone 2:30 am and I've just finished baking 41 butterfly cakes that are just awaiting cream tomorrow morning, I've made a rather large lemon merangue pie, and a really small (it was an experiment) fudge cake. My mum's made 40 mini trifles as well as 1 big one. Yesterday she made 6 plates of no-cook chocolate cake, and my sister baked 3 large chocolate cakes, one of which I've just coated in melted chocolate and doused in hundreds and thousands. In short: we've made a lot of cakes.

Tomorrow we're gonna head out to my Gran's at a ridiculous hour of the morning (7am) - bringing a load of cakes - meet up with most of my extended family there, have dinner, and then basically swap cakes with them all.
Then we'll go to my aunty's house and swap cakes with her. Then we'll come home and swap cakes with our neighbours.
Then we'll sit down and stuff our faces with, you guessed it, cakes. In fact in my family, the only proper meal we have on Eid day is the one at my Gran's. The rest is all just cake, sweets, biscuits, chocolate, crisps and other such crap - which, by the way, is a lovely way of celebrating the end of a month's fasting.

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