Eid al-Fitr is a public holiday for three days in Qatar. It is a special time for people to reconnect with their families and relatives that they have not seen for a while. Qatar has a large population of foreign workers (around 88%) so everyone celebrates according to the traditions of their home country. The local Qataris have their own Eid traditions as well. They prepare for Eid by buying flowers to decorate their homes and chocolate to offer to their visitors. Festive lanterns and lights come alive all over the cities of Qatar.
The first day of Eid begins with Eid prayer in the morning. Everyone wears their new and best clothes. When they return home from the prayer, Qatari families have big breakfasts together before heading out to visit their grandparents and elders. It is expected for younger Qatari people to visit their elders on Eid. It is also a custom for families to first visit the paternal side of the family. Elders hand out money to children and young people. The children are incredibly excited as they associate the Eid with generous sums of gifts and feasts. Once visits to the grandparents are complete, Qatari families spend the rest of the day meeting with other distant relatives they often do not have a chance to see.
At these house visits, lots of tea, finger foods, and chocolates are served. Qataris generally serve red tea (with mint and saffron) or karak tea. Karak is a staple beverage in Qatar. Its key ingredients are black loose tea leaves, evaporated milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom. In the evening, some families prefer to eat out at the restaurants. The popular traditional dishes are lamb machboos, (lamb, rice, and various spices), ghuzi (whole roasted lamb on rice with vegetables and nuts), and balaleet (noodles cooked with sugar, cinnamon, saffron, and cardamom with an omelet on top) just to name a few. Usually, reservations have to be made very early in advance.
While the first day of Eid is explicitly reserved for family, people see friends on the second and third days of Eid. Some Qatari families plan special activities for the second day such as eating out at a restaurant or staying at a hotel.
Composed by Filiz Arslan