In the Philippines, August 20 is a declared holiday in deference to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are celebrating the Eid’l Fitr. It marks the end of Ramadan. It has been so long since I am able to enjoy a weekend extended by 2 official holidays. Unfortunately, because of the excitement caused by having an additional day-off, we often times forget to appreciate what the holiday was initially intended for. In fact I know several people who are not even aware why this particular day was declared a holiday!
An example of this is the Independence day. Although a major national holiday, it has never really been a celebration that can match its American counterpart in terms of pomp and popularity among our own citizen. The only exception would be the bicentennial celebration in 1998 which I still somehow remember. It is not shocking to find that children do not really understand the essence of the event and its historical significance when the actual day is only commemorated by the same gun salutes in Quirino grandstand or the same old reenactments in Kawit, Cavite. It is a national phenomenon that is both sad and embarrassing.
Although most of us non-muslims have some license to be somewhat ignorant of the importance of this day, I think it is a great opportunity for us to learn more about the faith and culture of our fellowmen. Here are things I learned from the web:
- It goes by many names depending on what country you are on. Since it is an Arabic phrase, the anglicized version of the word widely varies, Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Fitr; Eid, meaning festivities. while Fitr means “to break a fast”. In the Philippines it is also referred to as the Hari Raya Puasa. It marks the end of Ramadan.
- Republic Act No. 9177, signed on 2002, declares,
“the first day of SHAWWAL, the tenth month of the Islamic Calendar, A national Holiday for the observance of EIDUL FITR.“
The Philippines is the only christian dominated country to have declared this day a national holiday (nice!).
- As mentioned, it is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal. Shawwal is the tenth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. Since the first day of Shawwal is marked by the appearance of the crescent of the new moon, the actual date varies.
- Giving charity to the needy, openness and generosity to both Muslims and non-Muslims are just some of the Muslim values highlighted by this feast. Forgiveness and reconciliation are also expressed on this day as some would consider it as a day of rebirth after 30 days of fasting.
(Note: Not an expert on this so do let me know if I was not able to state something correctly or if you wanted something to add, cheers!)
This feast also reminds me of our Lenten Season! This just goes to show that if we look closely at each others culture and belief, similarities which binds us together stands to exist. Aside from learning a little bit about Islamic culture, I have also come to realize that to move towards tolerance and acceptance, we must first overcome ignorance to break the wall of prejudice.