Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Ramadan 2015, Day 19 – Preparations for Eid

So today I walked into a Qatari colleague’s office and saw something unusual on his desk that really caught my eye . . .

Stacks and stacks of cash! There must have been 30-40,000 riyal on his desk (around $10,000). All of it newly-minted bills delivered from the bank. It is a sure sign that Eid is coming soon.

Eid al-Fitr (translates as "breaking of the fast") is the celebration to mark the end of Ramadan, typically 29 days after Ramadan has started. Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar and it is celebrated by every Muslim. In Qatar many businesses give three business days as holiday for Eid.

Eid celebrations involve meeting with family and friends and enjoying a large meal or feast. Because of the symbolism of no longer having to fast is actually prescribed in a well-accepted hadith that a Muslim cannot fast on the first day of Eid, thus should partake in the Eid meals. Generosity and friendship are important aspects of Eid, and people try to dress in clean clothes for the festivities, which nowadays means people buy new clothes for the holiday. This is one of the busiest times for tailors in Doha as they are busy making thobes, abayas, dresses, and other garments for customers.

In keeping with the theme of generosity in Qatar it is traditional to give gifts of money to children, and keeping with the theme of things being new and clean that means people prefer giving out brand new money, hence the stack of fresh bills on my colleague’s desk. The money is Eid gifts for relatives and children (lucky kids!)

Having stacks of fresh money ready for Eid is pretty standard in Qatar and during Ramadan the Central Bank prints millions and millions of new riyal in preparation for the holiday as many Qatari’s place requests with banks for new bills. My colleague was not the only one getting stacks of money today, I saw a couple of other colleagues with small shopping bags containing their Eid money. Good thing Qatar has such a low crime rate, I'd be really nervous even going straight home with that much cash.

There’s still about 10 days to go before Eid but it appears preparations for the holiday are already underway.

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