For Muslims, Eid al-Fitr is a time to dispense charity to the needy and get together with family for celebratory meals and to exchange gifts, with special Eid prayers being said at the Mosque early in the morning on the first day of Eid.
For us expats it's slightly less meaningful, but it does mean a couple of days off from work, a week off school for the kids and being able to eat, drink, chew gum and smoke in public during daylight hours again now Ramadan is over.
It's also an opportunity for ex-pats to get to know their Muslim neighbours better. The kids and I took chocolate brownies over to our neighbours last night as an Iftar gift, which Alpha had told me was the done thing (Alpha has cultural presentations at work so tends to be an overbrimming font of knowledge when it comes to local customs). Some of our neighbours were obviously surprised at the sudden appearance of a Westerner brandishing tupperware and smiling manically while trying to utter mangled Arabic phrases: I can't have been that bad though as some of our kinder neighbours reciprocated tonight with some delicious rice and chicken dishes.
If you want to reach out to your neighbours and do a better job than I did in explaining why you are trying to give them food, here are a few handy Arabic phrases for the Eid period:
- Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair - May every year find you in good health
- Eid Mubarak - Blessed Eid
- Eid Saeed - Happy Eid
- Taqabbala Allahu minna wa minkum - May Allah accept from us, and from you