Eid of Ramadan is considered the first three days after the holy month of Ramadan, a holly month where all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset from eating and drinking.
Eid for countries that adopt Ramadan is the equal of Christmas in western countries.
The festivity and celebration during this time of the year comes with many memories of mine as a child growing up in Yemen.
First, everyone must wear new clothes, and be scrubbing clean. Men /some women, go for Eid morning prayers, and then get back to a large breakfast meal celebrating the first day after a long month of fasting.
Usually, the first day of Eid is hard on people to adjust their sleeping hours back to normal night hours after shifting them during Ramadan, and that’s why many likes to start the day with a big cup of Yemeni, spiced, and freshly brewed coffee (Bonn-بُن) and maybe one or two dates.
Kids know that they will not be punished at the night of Eid.My dad remembers, as a child, he used to be extra naughty and less caring for keeping his clothes clean while playing with other kids because he knows that no kid would sleep sad or crying at the night before Eid.
Kids were disciplined at that day by telling them that Eid flys away and refuses to arrive to a city were their kids were not behaving well. You can imagine how kids believe, just like how kids in the west believe of mysterious Santa visiting from the north pole and bromgs with him his precious gifts.
Later on, after breakfast, kids get ready to go with their parents in a series of house visits for family members.
This time of the year is considered very important for families to re-unite, get back in touch, and know each and everyone’s updates on their lives.
Problems or conflicts discussions are delayed for after Eid, and everyone look forward to spend some good time with their families, and to remember their loved ones who passed away by visiting their tombs and inviting their families for lunch and afternoon socializing.
Its very important to bring some money as a gift or as Yemenis call it “Aasb” عسب for women of the family or others with financial needs. A support system that has been around for so long to promote the strength and unity between families, and a way to help and care for others without being labelled as a charity gesture, its simply just an Eid gift.
Kids get their share of money gifts too, it’s also has another name “Oyadaah” عُياده. I remember at this age that I would get all my Oyadah during my visits, but then spend it all over afternoon buying fireworks and candy.
This year,while my visit to my grandfather’s house, I witnessed neighborhood’s kids knocking the doors asking for their Oyadah and some cookies. For none family kids its usually a nominal amount of money.I was surprised how girls are noticing women’s fashion, very different from how I had it in my childhood. Fancy big hairs styles, sparkly dresses, and big accessories. Only then, I realized that I am the one growing older, and I forgot how exciting kids become at this time and competing to be fancy and “cool” as much as they can. I vaguely remember I was nagging and begging my mom to wear high heels like her but I can’t remember if it worked or not.
Noticing this moment reminded me, in a weird way, with my first experience of Halloween in the United States. Neighborhod’s kids rang my bell asking for candy, they were wearing cute crazy costumes, and most importantly, all drew huge smiles in their faces when they received there candy bars.
As I was taking those pictures was thinking that this is exactly how every kid in this world should celebrate.
My mom used to draw beautiful motives of Henna on my hands, a tradition that is still strong in old neighborhoods of cities of Yemen. This costume is still alive and thriving in most of Yemen urban and rural area,however ,most people now use a ready to make henna tape that you put on your hand and fill in the pattern’s gaps with henna . Henna plant is considered a blessed plant . It is pretty much used for dying hair ,and making henna motives on skin. Its mixture with water is popular to cool down head from heat in hot weather.
Later on we got back our way home, and finished up the celebration with meat in the oven , Fattah meal (that could be eaten with honey or with yogurt and spicey bisbas chilli) and Saltah.
That’s how Yemenis spend Eid , and how family meetings continue during the first three days after Ramadan.
On that same month, I was delighted to be invited to speak on Ramadan rituals through Mafraj Radio. Mafraj Radio is a podcast organized by Will Picard, founder of Yemen Peace Project.
If you are interested in Listening to the Podcast Please, check this Link.