Two Eid festivals appear on the Muslim religious calendar, Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the month-long celebration of Ramadan, and Eid ul-Adha, which commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to obediently sacrifice his son at God's command.
Eid ul-Fitr, often simply referred to as Eid, ends the month of religious fasting for Muslims known as Ramadan. On Eid, Muslim families get up especially early in the morning to attend special prayers before the day's celebrations and festivities begin.
Dressed in holiday attire on Eid, Muslim families visit their friends and relatives, greeting one another with the traditional words (also often found inscribed on Eid cards), "Eid mubarak" or "Eid saeed." Often exact translations of such greetings fall flat of the sentiment meant to be expressed, but roughly, Muslims are telling each other "Happy Eid." (This loose translation, however, hardly does justice to the sense of peace, love, and brotherhood represented by the celebration of this holiday.)
On Eid, Muslim parents normally give their children monetary gifts. Wives also receive special tokens and the holiday is taken as a time to settle feuds and disputes between family members and friends.
The Muslim calendar is lunar based so each year their religious observances shift according to the cycles of the moon. In 2006 Eid will fall on about October 24. (It is not uncommon for the observances to actually begin a day or two before or after the predicted date, especially as some observances depend on the presence of the crescent moon.)
The second of the Eid festivals, Eid ul-Adha happens approximately seventy days after the end of Ramadan. It is also an occasion for the donning of finery, periods of special prayer, and acts of charity. (In some instances sheep are sacrificed in recognition of Ibrahim's obedience and the meat distributed in the community.)
Eid cards have become so popular that sites exist on the Internet where Muslims can send electronic Eid cards to one another. It has been difficult for Americans in the years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to embrace their fellow citizens who are adherents of the Muslim faith, especially with the war in Iraq being seen by many Muslims as a war on their faith rather than on terrorism as President George W. Bush insists.
However, inroads are being made. Greeting card giant Hallmark now offers Eid cards in their line of greetings cards and it can only be taken as progress when an Eid card sits in the rack of a Hallmark store next to traditional American Halloween cards. (While one Hallmark Eid card reads "joy, blessings, love" another of their Eid cards carries the traditional greeting, "Eid mubarak.")
The two Eid festivals on the Muslim calendar, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, illustrate the ethical and grateful elements of the Muslim religion. An understanding of these Muslim festivals and other observances of the Muslim faith will go a long way toward bridging the tremendous religious chasm over which the Western nations have viewed the Muslim nations with suspicion.