Celebration, Eid, and Mental Health

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan. For Muslims the world over, it’s an important feast day. From Morocco to Malaysia, New York to Niger, Eid is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of Ramadan, celebrate with loved ones, exchange gifts, wear new clothing, visit with friends, and eat delicious foods.

Celebrating in non-Muslim-majority countries can be disorienting, where Eid is often just another normal day. Increasingly, school systems and employers are becoming more sensitive about spiritual days and religious holidays. In many larger school systems, Eid can be taken as a holiday by students and faculty.

The Eid holiday comes on the heels of a month of fasting during Ramadan.

Fasting (abstaining from all food and water between sunrise and sunset) in the workplace and during the school day can pose challenges. Solutions include alternative activities during lunchtime, sports, and gym class. Faculty and administration can encourage psycho-education for the student body; employers can be sensitive to team members not sitting in on a lunch meeting where everybody is devouring sandwiches; and the timing of Iftar, the breaking of the fast is very important when meeting colleagues or friends for dinner. Colleagues and friends can participate by learning more about Ramadan. Several Muslim patients have told me that a partner, best friend, or colleague fasted in solidarity with them, and how much it meant to them. Most importantly, carving out a space/time that is personally significant, spiritual, and rich, matters.

How to celebrate

Call loved ones.
Calling or video chatting with family and friends can ease the loneliness of being away from community. This means not just immediate family but also cousins/extended family, neighbors, and close friends.

Enjoy traditional foods.
Sheer khurma, or saviyan, is a sweet vermicelli that’s a favorite across South Asia on Eid, for instance. Biryani is a dish that can be made with a variety of nuts, herbs, spices, meat if desired, and basmati rice, and is literally a feast in a pan. The BBC has a great collection of Eid recipes on their website.

Get together with friends.
Whether a potluck, picnic, or buffet to mark the occasion, visiting friends, hosting an open house, or throwing a dessert party, being with friends and neighbors is a huge part of Eid. Often people visit multiple homes to say their Eid greetings, drink tea, and celebrate. Virtual get-togethers have also become popular during the pandemic.

Honor the traditions that make the holiday special.
These include praying, volunteer work and community service, reflection, and charitable giving. Part of the importance of fasting includes empathy with those who have less, in order to feel the hunger of those who frequently go without. Eid is also a time to give presents, wear new clothes, and give children money (Eidi), a time-honored tradition that predates gift cards.

Eid Mubarak from Embolden Psychology.  We value culturally informed and multiculturally competent practice.
Also see Cultural Competency with Muslim Patients.

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