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20 February 2015
BBC Northern Ireland Learning - Citizenship - KS3/KS4

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The celebration at the end of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr (Festival of breaking the fast) and is one of Islam's major religious festivals. During the month of Ramadan Muslims (believers in Islam) fast daily from dawn to sunset and at the end of this month they hold a three-day festival. Eid-ul-Fitr is not only to celebrate the end of fasting, but also to thank Allah for the help and strength that he has given them throughout Ramadan. In Muslim countries Eid-ul-Fitr would be a public holiday.

Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawaal, the tenth month in the Muslim calendar. Because Islam uses a lunar calendar (each month begins with the sighting of a new moon) the month of Ramadan starts about eleven days earlier each year. This means Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr aren't on fixed dates in the Western calendar and each year the timing of the festival will change. The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr begins with the first sighting of the new moon in the sky. Muslims in most countries (including Northern Ireland) rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves.

Although it lasts three days, the main festivities occur on the first day. It is a joyous time of generosity and gratitude. Muslims celebrate Eid by attending special prayers at mosques, before taking part in a celebratory meal either with other members of the community or with close friends and family. (In this panorama photograph members of the Northern Ireland Islamic community, having just attended prayers, are chatting together before sitting down to their celebratory meal.) This is the first meal Muslims will have eaten during the daytime in a month. Children are given sweets and presents (sometimes even new clothes) and cards will be exchanged displaying the words Eid mubarak - A Happy Eid. It is also a time of forgiveness and making amends.

An important aspect of Eid-ul-Fitr is charity. Many Muslims give gifts, money or help to the poor.

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