Sunday, September 20, 2009

'Tis the Night Before Eid

Tomorrow (September 21st) is the holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, or the end of the month of fasting for Muslims around the world. "Eid" means "festivity" in Arabic and "Fitr" means "to break the fast," (Wikipedia). Here in Tajikistan, people generally refer to the upcoming holiday as "Eid-i-Ramazan." Tomorrow, schools and offices are closed. I don't know about the markets, since this holiday involves a lot of eating. Those who have family in other cities or villages have traveled to visit them if they were able.

I know many people who observed the fast, and also many who didn't, either for specific health reasons or because it is too difficult. For those who fast, it means no food, drink or other indulgences (smoking is one) doing daylight hours. At the end of the day, families break the fast together with the Iftor meal (pronounced Iftar in some countries). I was invited to an Iftor meal combined with a birthday party for a coworker this week. The other guests and I were ushered into a room with a long table laden with food: salads, bread, tea, fruit, vegetables, sambusas, jam...and that was just the appetizer. Then we were served soup with dumplings and vegetables, foil packets with roasted meat and vegetables, and cake. My friend's mother and other women in the household had surely been cooking all day long. It was delicious. As we were leaving, her mother asked us to come again, and my friend walked us down to where we would take minibuses to our homes. Part of Tajik hospitality is making sure that the guests get all the way home safely. The next day, 4 different coworkers who were at the party asked me how my journey home was, and I live a 5 minute bus ride away!

Eid is celebrated for 3 days, though the only school holiday this year is the first day. People go from house to house, visiting friends and family and sampling their spreads of food. Tomorrow I will go to another Tajik friend's house to celebrate Eid-i-Ramazan. She invited me, telling me to come at 9:30 or 10:00 AM, because her mother would have the soup ready by then and she wants me to be their first guest! I think I will also visit my neighbor's apartment too. I borrowed a traditional Tajik outfit from an American friend and I will wear it for the festivities. I love the Tajik clothing. Pictures of that to come!


  1. Bethany - it's so great to hear you are getting so many social invitations!! And, that they're including you in the Eid festivities. The food you described sounds SO good. Tell us about your camping trip when you have time..... thanks! I miss you!

  2. ...and all through the house...
    can't wait to see pics of new friends there!

  3. I can't wait to see the Tajik clothing! Your adventures sound so fun. It sounds like you're meeting a lot of people and making a lot of connections - that is awsome.