Dec 24, 2012

Family Time in the Holiday Season: Reflecting On the Two Eids, Some Practical Advice

by Wordsmith


If you live in the West, or have visited during the holiday season, I am sure you are aware of the mayhem that takes place during national festivities. It is pretty hard to miss, as every aisle in every store is decorated with the colors of the upcoming holiday (although “upcoming” usually means two months later) and seasonal jingles chirp in every corner. Although, from a critical lens, it is obvious that such celebratory efforts are rooted in consumerism rather than religious inclinations, I guess we all have to admit that the artificial excitement is pretty contagious…

I mean, come on! Everything is on sale, everyone is at the malls shopping for their loved ones, the candy section at Walmart is suddenly overflowing with holiday-themed bits of goodness, and the jovial songs that play in the overhead store radios get pretty catchy and familiar after a while.

Once, my sister made a confession to me: she was usually more excited about Christmas than she was for both Eids. I realized that the feeling is probably mutual for many young Muslims living in the West whose families have not done much to celebrate their Islamic identity and history during the prescribed holidays.

My own experience is evidence of this dilemma: on the day of Eid, many of my friends did not endeavor to dress up for Eid prayer at the local masjid, as if it were just an ordinary day. This nonchalance may be due to the way they experienced the Islamic holidays, and never really felt that the day was anything special, besides the extra prayers they had to perform at the mosque.

Reality check for those who believe the above is not a valid concern: you ARE competing with the commercialism of holidays and festivities. And although, as an adult, you believe you are not susceptible to the craze please realize that your children are. We should not have to feel left out during Halloween or Christmas, or feel that as Muslims we are not “fun” and only religious. Properly celebrating the joy that God has prescribed for us is our duty.

Now that the need to celebrate our God-given holidays is emphasized, here are some creative ways and useful resources to add some flavor to your Eid:

1. HYPE things up!
Before the Eid holidays begin, get into the zone of the celebrations! Pray to Allah to make this holiday a beautiful time for you and your family, as well as a time of blessing and mercy for all families around the globe. Then start the planning!

Talk to some friends who you want to share the celebrations with and see what they are doing. Plan something together. Sure, last-minute plans hold an element of spontaneity, but arranging for things earlier gives everyone excitement-tingles and something to look forward to on Eid. Additionally some places might require reservation or prior-notice, eliminating some of your fun options.

Also, make sure your plans are inclusive of parents, children, young and old. If making plans with a large group of people, plan for the kids’ activities to happen on one day, and something both adults and kids can enjoy the next day.

Decorations are simply INDISPENSABLE during the holidays! And they are fun and cheap!
Run to the dollar store, grab a bunch of streamers, balloons, and tape. Decorations will give you and the children an activity to bond over as you teach them to fold, cut, tape and blow. This will all add to the celebratory mood.

TIP: Get creative and do not resort to having an “Eid tree”; that is just plain unoriginal.

Here are some awesome decorations to make and display with your kids for Eid, along with complete instructions and pictures:

The prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam said: “Exchange gifts with each other, you will love each other.” [Al-Bukhari, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Number 594, Hasan]

The process of giving gifts might be a little tedious, but who does not love receiving gifts? Make it a holiday tradition in your family to give and receive gifts, and one way you can do that is by revamping the “Secret Santa” game and call it “Secret Salam.”

I began this tradition in my family after a friend told me about it. Basically, you put each family member’s name in a hat or bowl and mix up the names. Then each person draws out a name and must give a gift to the person whose name they pulled out.

Also, we added a wish list feature to the process in order to make gift-shopping a bit easier. Each participant is to post a wishlist of gifts they would like to receive on the fridge. Making a price cap/limit also evens out the game, so that you do not end up with a few pieces of candy while another family member unwraps an iphone.

If you need some help on how to give gifts, here is a humorous but meaningful guide to pull you out of your rut:

Of course, it is always important to give back to your community in any way, even during the holidays. And there are so many ways to do so, all of which incorporate quality time where the family does something purposeful together.

For example, make goodie bags for the children in your neighborhood or community, even if they are not Muslim. Include a little note in there wishing them a happy holiday or Eid, as well as a concise quote from Prophet Muhammad salallhu Allayhi wassalam encouraging an act of goodness.

Also, if your family is one who sacrifices an animal for Eid, take your children to see the process and include them in the act of passing out the meat to the needy. This will open their eyes to the fact that there are always people who are in a worse situation than them and it will encourage them to be more grateful. Make sure to discuss the experience afterwards and hear what they have to say.

Last but not least, it is very important to make the holidays a time of joint ibaadah and spirituality for the family. Reflect on the purpose and history of your celebration together. Retell the stories and pray two rak’ahs of shukr/gratitude together for being able to celebrate another day of joy as a family. Offer the Witr prayer to end the day and during the Qunut Nazilah make dua for the items on your list (the one you had compiled earlier with your children by brainstorming with them).

Finally, realize that you do not need to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy your Eid. Look for financially efficient ways to celebrate (I am sure the internet can supply you with numerous ideas). Also, when creating traditions of celebration with your family, make sure that the whole family is included in the process, and that your festivities are tailored to THIS culture too and not only to what your family has done every Eid overseas. Your children might not necessarily find such traditions relevant.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Reference for Hadeeth-


I SO love this article mashaAllah! :D
JazakaAllahu Khair sis! I will surely use these ideas next eid inshaAllah! :)

You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before
you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow
them in this also. We said: Allah's Messenger, do you mean Jews and
Christians (by your words)" those before you"? He said: Who else (than
those two religious groups)? Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him)
as saying:
(Muslim Book #034, Hadith #6448)

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