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Eid al-Adha: Everything to know about the Muslim holy days

Eid al-Adha is almost here, but what's it all about?

Muslims stone the devil as part of the Hajj pilgrimage, the end of which is celebrated with Eid al-Adha. Image: Al Jazeera English/Flickr

Eid is almost upon us, as Muslims around the world usher in one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar. At the end of June, Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Adha, not to be confused with Eid al-Fitr which occurs at the end of Ramadan (this took place in late April). 

In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah – the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar. Just as Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan (whereby Muslims fast from sun up to sun down), Eid al-Adha celebrates the end of the Hajj pilgrimage which is one of the five pillars of Islamic faith. 

The tradition for Eid al-Adha, meaning ‘feast of the sacrifice’, involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat with family, relatives, friends, and poor people. It is a three-day celebration, though many Muslims celebrate on the first day of Eid. 

It is a time many Muslims around the world will offer charitable donations, spend time with their loved ones and get decked out in new clothes. 

Here’s what to know about the holy day:

What is Eid al-Adha?

Eid al-Adha commemorates the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and also the prophet Ibrahim (known as Abraham in Judeo-Christian tradition) and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail. At the point of sacrifice, Muslims believe God replaced Ismail with a ram, which was to be slaughtered in place of his son.

This command was a test of prophet Ibrahim’s willingness and commitment to obey God. Therefore, Eid al-Adha means the festival of sacrifice. For Eid, Muslims will usually eat lamb, beef, or other meats and distribute it among their communities. 

When is Eid al-Adha?

Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on 29 June, 2023, and end on the evening of 1 July, 2023. The date may vary according to moon sightings in different parts of the world, but Eid-al Adha 2023 is predicted to begin on Wednesday 28 June.

Do you get a day off for Eid?

Muslims make up 6.5% of the UK population (according to the UK census released in Nov 2022), which means that it is not recognised as a national holiday. However it is at the employer’s discretion to let employees have the day off. Some may have to book Eid off as annual leave, while in areas with a high Muslim population students may be granted a day off to celebrate Eid. 

Why do Muslims have two Eids?

There are two Eids in the calendar year; Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr comes first and occurs at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid al-Adha comes at the end of the Hajj pilgrimage. Both events see Muslims get dressed up, donate to charities and vulnerable groups, and spend time with their loved ones. 

When is the next Eid? 

Ater Eid al-Adha on 29 June, the next event is Eid al-Fitr, which is to take place in April 2024, at the end of Ramadan. As Muslims follow the lunar calendar, the dates for Eid and Ramadan depend on the movements of the moon and its sightings. 

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