This is the complete version of the article that was first published on the How Do You Do It? Moms of Multiples Tell It Like It Is blog.
Millions of people across North American recently celebrated Eid-Ul-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan. Nowadays, many Muslim families with young kids are trying to celebrate Eid by adapting the customs and rituals from “back home” and adding a North American twist.
There are two major Eid holidays in the Islamic faith: one to mark the end of a month-long daily fast, the other to mark the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by millions of Muslims. Because the holidays are determined by the Lunar calendar, the dates for Eid fall eleven days earlier in the Gregorian calendar every year.
Eid is usually celebrated by dressing in new clothes, going to early morning community prayers, visiting friends and neighbours, and noshing on delicious spreads of sweet, salty, and fried foods that you normally wouldn’t eat all in the same day! Growing up, the excitement of Eid was always in wearing cultural clothes (shalwar kameez), going to “Open Houses” where the aforementioned food would be laid out, and getting small amounts of cash in envelopes, called an “Eidee”.
Over the last ten years or so in North America, the festivities that follow Eid prayer have evolved into more of an amusement-park like atmosphere for kids with bouncy castles, pony rides, and vendors selling food, clothes and toys. Fewer people have Open Houses for all their family and friends, and instead opt for smaller gatherings at home or at restaurants. At home, people put up lights, decorations and have started giving out Eid gifts in lieu of the traditional money envelope.
In our own home, Eid was always a chance to pass on the excitement I would feel growing up about Eid and share with our kids. Question is, how to celebrate Eid when Mama is already strung out from months of lack of sleep, there is little in the way of modern Eid decorations, the twins can’t stay up past 7:30 p.m., and are too little to really understand anyway?
The first couple of Eids we dressed them up in cute little outfits, skipped the community prayer due to it being a logistical nightmare, and instead visited close family for lunch and dinner. When they became toddlers, I searched online for trendy, printable decorations we could hang up on our fireplace to make things festive. They were only 2.5 years old that summer, but old enough to get excited about birthdays and Christmas. I found some adorable, free printables for Ramadan and Eid banners at Sakina Designs.
For the stairs, I wrapped thick, multi-coloured ribbon from Michaels around you would tinsel. And of course, there were the gold star decorations which I bought from Christmas clearances past (Anyone else buy shiny Christmas decorations and use them for other holidays?) When Mister and Missy came home, their reaction was “Wow, niiice” and “Star!” By the next day they didn’t take notice anymore.
For Eid Year 3, I invested in some Eid-inspired cookie cutters from Eidway – Creative Islamic Decorations. They come in the shape of a five- and eight-point stars, moon crescent, lantern, and mosque, which are all recognizable symbols of the faith. Since Mister and Missy were experienced play dough shapers, they loved making shapes with the cookie cutters.
This year now that the twins are four years old, things got a bit more elaborate. I opted for the Eid gift option for the kids since they LOVE surprises and opening gifts. I also found some cute designs for printable Eid envelopes so for next Eid (Eid-ul-Adha in a couple of months), we’ll do that to keep the Eidee tradition going.
The kids were very excited about making Eid cookies this year. The only problem was, lack of time! Although they are off school since it’s summer, we are still working and it’s been hard to find enough time (and energy!) to start the four step process of making the dough, rolling and doing the shapes, baking the cookies, then decorating. So I decided to split it up into two sessions for the kids. One evening I made the dough using this simple Martha Stewart recipe then kept it chilled in the fridge overnight. The next day was Eid and the kids got to roll it out. It was super cute, and unfortunately difficult at times since the dough was very bendy. I was too busy snapping pictures to notice the frustration brewing on Missy’s face as she tried to life her masjid shape onto a spatula to place on the cookie sheet. Luckily Nani was there to help her out while I supervised Mister.
Tip: Place each child on either side of you so it’s easy to help both at the same time, or better yet have a second adult there to help before one (or both) mini-bakers get frustrated.
We didn’t have time to use up all the dough so I finished making more cookies that night, baked and decorated them for giving to neighbours. Here’s how they turned out using some of the buttercream icing skills I learned at a Michaels Wilton Decorating course I took this past January.
Meanwhile, the kids’ cookies were stored in an airtight container until we found time to decorate. One day Missy and I were spending quality time together, and were able to carve out time to decorate (and eat) her creation. This time it was smiles all around with the homemade buttercream icing!
The next day, it was Mister’s turn.
Other things I had planned which I didn’t get to do was make sheer korma (traditional sweet vermicelli in sweet milk dessert), make more cookies for more neighbours, put up more Eid decorations, and do some crafts. Oh well there’s always next year!
How have you incorporated a unique holiday or celebration into your family lives? What new traditions have you started (or are thinking about starting) as your children get older?