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Eid Plans in the Time of Coronavirus: Trying to Keep the Spirit Alive

May 24, 2020
Kahk, a traditional Egyptian cookie that is usually consumed during Eid. Image credit unknown.

The smell of a freshly cooked breakfast first thing in the morning, loud family members this way and that, re-connecting with distant cousins, snow-like sugar covered kahk (traditional Egyptian cookies) at every corner, and road trips to the beach –  these are just a few of the things everyone looks forward to every Eid. 

This year, Eid – as is the case with most festive and religious holidays – will have a different taste to it. Other than the fact that people are trying practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings, the country has also issued a nation-wide curfew at 5 p.m. and enforced a set of measures in attempts to halt the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) during a time that is all about gatherings and large crowds. 

These measures also include the banning of all public transport between governorates and the shutdown of beaches all across the country. While attempting to allow some leeway for people to enjoy Eid as best as they can this year, it will certainly not be the same. 

With the number of cases in Egypt increasing on a daily basis, it is a critical time to take precaution – this fact alone has created both a sense of pressure amongst the general population, as well as somewhat of a gloomy atmosphere. 

With the looming thought of celebrating (or lack thereof) Eid differently than any other year, many are reminiscing of what they had done to celebrate last year, as well as the years before that. Eid traditions have undoubtedly evolved over the years… from waking up bright and early for Eid prayers and buying new Eid clothes, to Lotus-flavoured konafa (traditional Egyptian dessert) and traveling with friends to the beach. This year however, is introducing an entirely novel experience for all.

That being said, Eid has always been a time of celebration and joy, and although it may be slightly different this year, people are still planning to make the most of it. Egyptian Streets asked a few people to share their Eid plans with us this year. 

Kahk, a traditional Egyptian cookie that is usually consumed during Eid. Image credit unknown.

Keeping Some Rituals Intact

“I’m keeping the only rituals I can control: new pyjamas on Eid night and getting my hair done at home – I even bought a new hair straightener specifically for that.

My family and I also got each other more expensive gifts than usual this year in order to lighten up the mood.

We usually travel to visit my mom’s family in Alexandria every year – my grandma, grandpa, aunts and cousins – as we only get to see them on official holidays or special occasions, so it’s extra sad this year. Hopefully though, more frequent video calls with them will fill in a part of the void that can only be complete with us reuniting.”

-Noor, 27 years old

Downscaling on Family Gatherings

“I’ll probably be home all five days of Eid. I had broken fast with family a few times during Ramadan, but with the numbers increasing like this, I won’t be seeing them during Eid.

I usually gather with friends after morning prayers on the first day of Eid… we go get coffee and drive around. My family and i also have a number of small traditions that we like to do.

My only plans at this point are catching up on some movies and following a new workout routine – hopefully without stopping the routine at any point.”

-Manal, 27 years old

“I actually don’t usually do much for Eid (I don’t even travel or anything), other than gather with my parents for breakfast and lunch on the first day of Eid. We had initially wanted to have a big scale family gathering at my uncle’s house this year, but we decided that it ultimately wasn’t a good idea.”

Ahmed, 34 years old

Reminiscing, but Staying In

“Last year I travelled with some friends of mine. It was a really nice Eid; we went to the beach and spent a few days there – we swam, and it was a nice group of people.

This year, I’m not really doing much: I’m just staying home with my family and that’s pretty much it.”

-Malak, 28 years old

Then and Now

As previously mentioned, Eid traditions have evolved over the years. Morning Eid prayers have evolved to include a tradition of handing candy out to children, buying new clothes for Eid has slightly died down, and the annual eediyah (a traditional allowance that older members of a family hand out to younger members) has steadily increased over the years.

Regardless of how traditions evolve though to adjust to the times, gatherings and general festivities have always been a constant throughout the years. This year, everyone is faced with maintaining the spirit of Eid whilst attempting to celebrate in distance and safety.

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