Friday July 17 marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, which translates as the 'Feast of Breaking the Fast.' After a month of fasting between dawn and sunset, the joyful celebrations last for three days, with family visits, lavish feasts, and cheerful greetings of “Eid Mubarak” (have a blessed Eid).
Ramadan in Egypt
Officially ending the period of fasting and prayer that takes place during the month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with enthusiasm throughout the Muslim world, and Egypt is no exception. During Ramadan, some of the restaurants and cafés of Cairo continue to provide sustenance to visitors who don't share their faith, but may close earlier to ensure that staff get home in time to break their fast at sunset. After dark, the streets fill with residents ready to sate themselves on delicious dishes, many of which are served for free by pious restaurateurs following the teaching that at Ramadan, the rich should feed the poor. Shisha bars and coffee houses are often open all night, so guests at our Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis will never be short of evening entertainment in the city.
Eid falls on the first day of the new moon and is an official public holiday in Egypt. All schools, government offices, and universities are closed during this time. If you’re planning a visit to Cairo during Eid al-Fitr, be aware that some restaurants and stores may be closed as well, although all touristic sites will still be open. This is also a great time to schedule a day of shopping, because Cairo’s main commercial districts enjoy their least crowded days of the year while residents spend time at home with their families.
Celebrating the three days of Eid
During the three-day period of feasting for Eid al-Fitr families call on their neighbors, attend prayers in local mosques, and spend time together within the family home, balancing the three key elements of EId: worship, celebration and charity. Many Muslims attend mosques to donate gifts to the needy, giving food and clothes as well as money.
The first day of Eid is primarily about family. Children receive gifts, usually new clothing and a gift of cash known as Eidyah. Family members travel from far and wide to be together, and women may also be given thoughtful gifts to mark the occasion by their loved ones. Lunch is the main meal for families on this day, usually consisting of delicately spiced rice, fish, meat, and salad dishes.
On the following two days of Eid al-Fitr, families spend their holiday relaxing by the beach, visiting the cinema, or enjoying more festive treats in the park. Keep an eye out for kahk, Egyptian cookies dusted with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar and stuffed with nuts. You’ll find these in all local bakeries, particularly at the end of Ramadan when Cairo residents are stocking up for Eid.
Many Egyptian families take to the streets to enjoy celebrating with their local community, with mobile carnivals, performers, and storytellers keeping the crowd enraptured with traditional folktales. The streets are often lit up with lanterns and other festive decorations, so whether you're outside enjoying the atmosphere or attending a family celebration, you're guaranteed a memorable and magical evening.