By B. Khan
December 20, 2017
I know, I know. I’m not supposed to feel this way. Shirk, kufr, etc. I get it. And I know these are serious matters. But hear me out…
This isn’t about theology. It’s not about commercialization or make-believe characters. It’s about a child’s innocent desire to celebrate and just have fun.
I’ve noticed that in many Muslim homes, at least in the West, Eid is not the most exciting day of the year for children. But it should be. Yes, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are religious in nature, but that doesn’t mean they are not days of celebration and socialization.
As I was growing up, I think I was luckier than many Muslim children in that my family at least tried to make Eid fun. We had celebratory gatherings, decorations, and gifts. But I still envied the kids who were able to celebrate Christmas. I think it has to do with the holiday spirit.
Sounds cheesy, right? I just think there is something special about seeing a huge community of people celebrating in such a unified way. I love how everywhere I go, there are lights strung up on buildings and trees. There are carols and hymns echoing around to the point that they get stuck in my head. Red, green, and gold are the colours of the season.
Most Muslims that I know do not decorate their houses and yards for Eid. This might be because they don’t want to seem like oddballs who have lights up for no apparent reason in the middle of June. It might be because they are afraid of drawing attention to themselves due to the rising number of hate crimes against Muslims. Or it might just be due to sheer laziness.
Are lights such a big deal, though? The answer is, they’re not. But I feel it is important to publicly acknowledge and celebrate our holidays in some way, even if it’s not in the same way that other people celebrate theirs. It helps young people feel a sense of belonging and pride. It brings the community together. It lets the public know that there are people of diverse religious beliefs living in harmony—that this is not melting pot, but a “salad bowl.”
I do know of some Muslim communities in the US that make a significant effort to celebrate Eid with the families and children. They decorate the masjid and even host fun events like carnivals and gift exchanges. But these communities are not the majority, from what I have seen.
As a child, it feels awkward when there is a buildup of spirituality and unity throughout the month of Ramadan, only to have it fall flat on Eid-ul-Fitr. I wish the joy and excitement of Ramadan could carry over to Eid.
There is always something we can learn from other communities. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with their religious beliefs or copy everything they do. But at a time when hanging onto faith is like holding a hot piece of coal, every little effort counts.
As I stated previously, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or commercialized that makes Eid special. It could just be having simple family traditions like eating certain favourite foods especially on Eid day, doing charitable acts together such as donating food and toys, or sharing reflections that were gained during Ramadan while sitting around a fire pit, or going for a family outing to a special place every year after Eid Salah.
Let’s put more of an effort into making Eid fun and memorable for the Muslim youth. The holiday spirit doesn’t only have to be during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I’d like to hear from you: What are some ideas and experiences that have made Eid special for your family or community?