By: Aya Mahmoud
As Muslim Egyptians always complain about how meaningless Eid is in other Arab countries, Muslim immigrants in Muslim-minority countries face an even larger problem. If the day doesn’t start with prayers, brand new clothes, family gatherings and good food, then it isn’t a proper Eid celebration.
The story starts with the Muslim habit to have the Eid days off since it’s not a national holiday where they reside. You’ll have to explain to your foreign boss why you have no idea when your vacation will start, and how it all depends on the moon sighting. The whole family trying to take the same days off is a life challenge, but this isn’t a problem for Muslims living in Arab countries.
Another problem they face is finding a nearby mosque with a large number of Muslims praying as they seek the big crowds to feel back home.
While families gather on the first day of Eid; most of them are texting, women speaking to each other while holding their cell phones and small kids playing video games. We still try to have some Eid glamour, have some traditional sweets while wearing our finest clothes and wait for our favourite meal, Fatta.
Eid celebrations are squeezed in two or three main activities. Muslims’ sudden Eid- shopping decision leads to overcrowded stores in the highly Muslims populated districts. We gather with our friends after taking our “3edeya”, that our parents insist on giving us every year to keep attached us to our roots, and either go eat or cruise around with a car. Youth gather with their friends to play around with fireworks (if available) and buy some sweets. Another must-to-do-thing is our phone call to our siblings in Egypt; you Skype your grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle and their siblings and listen to their compliments about how you’ve turned into a fine grown-up now. You always have to consider two things before doing that; the time difference between both countries and if Eid has already started in Egypt or not.
We tend to celebrate Eid for several weekends as we try to keep the spirit going for the longest time possible. These celebrations include several Muslim family gatherings with different kinds of Egyptian food and chit chats about family origins. The family night outing is a common ritual every Eid day. We either go to an amusement park or go sit in an outdoor place; these outings usually have the “wana so3’ayar kont…” type of conversations from parents. Last day of Eid has to be all about TV; we watch a traditional Egyptian play or movie that’s aired on TV every Eid to feel the nostalgia.
No matter how hard we try to celebrate Eid abroad, it will always have its own special charm in Egypt. Street decorations, Eid songs airing on TV every morning, the comfort felt in the large family gatherings, the crowded neighborhoods with children playing and the “Dab7” religious tradition are things only found in our hometown.