How Eid is Celebrated Across the Region
From signature dishes to lantern festivals
Although Eid traditions tend to be pretty similar across the world (the mornings are typically reserved for prayers, followed by insane amounts of food and huge family gatherings) each country in the region adds their own twist to the holiday from local dishes, to entirely new and contemporary celebrations.
For the children, the tradition continues to be about sporting a new Eid ‘fit and of course, Eid money.
MILLE looks at traditions in the UAE, Saudi, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia, to give you an idea of how Eid is done.
While the UAE’s landscape has changed over recent years, traditions have stayed strong. Eid preparations usually begin within the last 10 days of Ramadan. Eid food is typically served to multiple family members and guests who get together at a designated house to celebrate the holiday—so it requires ample preparation time. Traditional Emirati cuisine is the way to go here, and ouzi—a slow cooked meal made with lamb and rice—is a must-have.
Lebanese traditions are similar to many of the Muslim traditions around the world. The holiday involves making rounds at relative’s houses, eating ‘kaak el Eid’ (Eid pastries), and sporting new clothes. But in recent years, a new tradition has sprung up in the heart of Tripoli. The Flying Lantern Night is the city’s organized event, where locals meet and light thousands of lanterns in celebration of the holiday. The event also includes collecting money for the less fortunate.
Eid in Egypt is centred around ‘kaak’, a nut-filled cookie dusted with powdered sugar that’s prepared or bought ahead of time and shared amongst family members. Kaak is eaten with tea for breakfast in the morning, and often, at every relative’s house visited that day.
Like most Arab nations, Tunisian Eid celebrations are also centred around food. Pastries, or ‘hlew’ is prepared days ahead of the holiday, which usually includes Baklawa, and Makrouth (a semolina-based fried dough filled with date paste).
Days ahead of Eid, Saudi Arabia’s malls are filled to the brim with everyone getting ready for the holiday. On the first day of Eid, families gather at their eldest relative’s house. The day’s traditions will vary depending on the province. In Jeddah, the corniche is the place to be after family gatherings. The city’s municipality typically arranges games there for children to play, so families flock over to enjoy the weather, and meet with relatives or friends to share a meal by the sea.