In this day and age of constantly trying to get away from the grind, always looking forward to the weekends and entertainment, partying, widespread use of music and a constant boredom that people feel the need to cater to, festivals can seem like just another day. Children are no exception to this. Parents feel they have failed if they are not doing some interesting activities, arts and crafts with their kids, or sending them off to expensive classes for sports and skills and often organizing parties, fun and frolic for them.
To make it special it truly has to be so
Apart from the other celebratory occasions which are recognized in Islam like weddings and births (aqeeqah) which happen over the course of a muslim’s life, we have invented so many other avenues of merrymaking on an yearly basis, simply looking for frequent breaks and celebration. But as Muslims, we need to remind ourselves that we celebrate only two ‘eid (festivals) which are marked on the specific days of the year: ‘eid ul-fitr (after the end of Ramadhan), and ‘eid ul-Udh-ha, the day of the greater hajj (pilgrimage). During these two festivals, we offer felicitations, remember Allah and spread joy. Joy and cheer is more appreciated if you have tasted a little of the mundane and ordinary. We all strive in our own ways to better our deen, and one way to do that is strive towards moderation in indulgence in the dunya. So yes be happy, celebrate life’s occasion but remember the balance and try to be patient and productive in the routine, make that ordinary and the festivities special.
Bash the birthday
One of the greatest evil of those invented celebrations is birthdays. I have no qualms in explaining to people that we don’t celebrate birthdays in our home. Why should I? I am muslim with an Indian background. Islam prohibits birthdays as its an imitation of the kuffaar and it was never ever a part of my culture. Our forefathers never even knew their birthday let alone acknowledge it. It’s a pagan tradition with Greek origins who believed in spirits that watched over the birth of every human and make the connection with God and the blowing candles as an answer to evil spirits. Even the early Christians didn’t celebrate birthdays due to its link with paganism. Besides, I never got the point of celebrating getting closer to death. Even as a little girl I would instead wish my friends a “Happy today, tomorrow and everyday”
Get that cake!
Since celebrating birthdays is so common, kids always pick up the concept from around them and if there is one thing that they most associate with it is the cake. One of the best ways I have been successful in taking the kids off the birthday craze is to offer the cake on Eid as an alternative. Splurge on your favorite cake only this time write our Eid Mubarak instead of the boring Happy Birthday.
Decorate the house:
I am not aware of how many people do this. But I have felt that it’s not very common especially among the mulsims in the Arab world or the Indian subcontinent. Yes we do spotlessly clean the house and prepare, but it would be great fun to do an Eid decor within moderation and the involvement of kids. Now you don’t need to head to the nearest party store and buy the most expensive materials or spend sleepless nights trawling on pinterest pinning all those incredibly beautiful but takes-loads-of-effort-and-time decoration ideas. Remember, moderation is key and if you are doing this for your kids, they are happy with the simplest of things. A few balloons and simple decor with crepe paper will always do if you are not the very crafty type. To save precious time during Ramadan and especially the last ten days, prepare the materials before Ramadan and save time on the day before Eid and just put it up.
Traditions, traditions and traditions:
The days of the two Eids are days of joy and happiness, and these days are singled out for some acts of worship, special practices, and traditions, including those that are Sunnah and those that are permissible cultural practices.
Teach the children all the beautiful special ways we worship Allah during Eid. Join in saying the Takbeer from the sighting of the moon, make occasion to attend the Eid prayer as a family. Make sure to follow all the sunan like ghusl, wearing clothes, wearing perfume, eating dates, going and coming to the prayer from different routes, etc. (See here for an explanation of the sunan of eid along with the references) Teach them to your children and get yourself a checklist (see below). Tick them off as you complete the tasks. Stickers can add more fun.
Apart from this visit your friends and family, follow your own permissible cultural traditions like applying henna, music-free eid songs and anasheeds, plan get-togethers and picnics, those special Eid dishes and don’t forget to give each other gifts (Eidiyya)
So begin your countdown and Enjoy!