Ramadan Ends, Eid ul-Fitr Festival Begins

August 19, 2012

colorful Malay boys enjoying Eid ul-Fitr

One of the great benefits of slow travel as a family around the world, is being able to experience many different celebrations and holidays in various countries. Ramadan is a holy month in Muslim cultures and this year we just experienced it in Malaysia. Eid ul-Fitr Festival comes next and is the biggest holiday of the year, breaking the fast, wearing new clothes and similar to New Years.


It is easy for us  to forget that Malaysia is an Islamic country ( but with 3 dominant cultures)  as we spend most of our time in Penang, immersed in the Chinese language and culture. But every day we have reminders, as this year our rental home is near a mosque so we can hear the distant sacred chants of the call to prayers several times a day.

Celebrating a new year in Penang

Since it is not my holiday and they have so many holidays here with three dominant cultures,  I actually didn't know it was Ramadan at first, but we were terribly puzzled that our very quiet neighborhood ( something needed when one sleeps with windows open) out of the blue was filled with fireworks, bulding- shaking loud firecrackers, racing motorbikes, gambling and noise all night long.

Neighboring women and girls celebrating  Eid ul-Fitr Festival

Finally, it clicked, and it appears that most sleep all day to help them fast from sunrise to sunset and then party and eat all night long. It didn't help that an empty building across the way hired a man who sent his 16 year old son to do night duty, so it was mostly his large group of teen friends creating all the racket all night long. Finally, we got the phone number of the owner and things got a bit better.

Malay father and son dressed in new clothes for Eid ul-Fitr Festival

This was not pleasant during the week our child had midterm tests at her Mandarin school, but at last she is off too on the official holiday period for two weeks, so now that we are staying up late too, it's been more fun to watch the fireworks. They do the loud fire crackers even during the day, so I will be happy when we get back to our normal quiet and serene nights. Also, I got some meds that didn't fit into my mailbox on Friday, so now we have to wait until Wednesday to get it as the Post Office is closed until then. The mixed blessing of being a foreigner and outsider who doesn't know all the cultural customs.

My Malay neighbor getting food supplies for Eid ul-Fitr Festival

When I woke this morning I knew it was another holiday because there was a constant group chanting I had never heard before, lots of men and male children dressed in bright colors walking the streets and women also dressed up with loads of food on their bikes or motorbikes.  That is when I let Google teach me about Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in Malaysia.

Man dressed in pink for Eid ul-Fitr Festival

What foreign holidays have you experienced abroad?

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What interesting pictures! Thanks so much for posting these. :)


Wow, I didn't know Ramadan included such boisterous celebrations!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

I didn't either Calle! I wrote about it on FB though and several told of similar loud night problems in various countries during Ramadan.

It kind of makes sense that they would sleep more during the day when fasting from sunrise to sunset, but I never really thought about it before. I didn't realize the night meals were part of the tradition and really didn't know about the loud fireworks and dangerous firecrackers.

The fire crackers are so loud and I will be real glad when it is over completely. ;) My guess is it is mainly teen boys who love this aspect and a few end up in the hospital with the shenanigans. ( We watch them throw them at each other in a game of chicken).

I thought the Spaniards were the fireworks kings, but this takes the cake!

Heidi Wagoner

Oh that sounds like fun, unless you have midterms of course. We are just talking now deciding if we want to do another full school year here in Spain or head over to SEA in Jan for a length of time.. Oh decisions. Not even sure where Cambodia, Thailand or Malaysia.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Good luck with your decisions Heidi! I think it takes more than a year of deep immersion to really get a language ( note Mozart was already fluent in Spanish when we arrived in Spain...and we still spent 4 winters there to give her a native like fluency) keep that in mind.

It does slow travel down, but I think worth the effort.

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