How 5 countries celebrate Eid al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr began at sunset Thursday, when the crescent of a new moon first showed over the Middle East. The three-day feast celebrates the end of the a month-long period of Ramadan's fasting and prayer. Here is how five countries ring in Eid al-Fitr.


Umit Bektas/Reuters
Tens of thousands of people break fast together in Ankara September 2, in an attempt to break the world record for the largest number of people breaking fast together. The Iftar dinner celebrates the evening breaking of fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While Eid al-Fitr is sometimes called the Muslim Christmas, celebrations in Turkey would remind American children more of Halloween. It is often referred to as Seker Bayrami ("Holiday of the Sweets") and children go door to door, wishing people a happy Bayram (holiday) and receiving candy and traditional sweets such as baklava and Turkish Delight in return.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 99.8 percent of Turkey's 76.8 million population is Muslim and almost entirely Sunni. From the European-minded northwest to the Kurdish southeast, Turks travel all over the country to visit relatives and also pay respects to their deceased loved ones. Government offices and schools are often closed for the entire three-day holiday and fundraising events are organized across the country to raise money for the poor.

Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman describes the scene:

Muslims will seek out recipients for Zakat al-Fitr, the compulsory charity that must be given before the Eid al-Fitr prayers [Friday] morning. The charity can be given in the form of staple foods such as rice and barley, as well as in money -- which has become a common practice. In Turkey, the Zakat al-Fitr amount is TL 7 [$4.65] this year. Islamic scholars recommend that Muslims seek out zakat recipients on their own and deliver the food or monetary aid in person as opposed to donating through a charity.

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