JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | Arab News Staff
Published — Sunday 11 August 2013
Last update 28 August 2013 6:23 am
Distributing eidiya — money gifts to children during Eid — is a tradition throughout the GCC area. The amount differs from one family to another and some families do not only give children but the older generation as well.
Muslims start their Eid with a special prayer called Al-Mashhad. Families go to the nearest mosque and perform their prayers either indoors or outdoors. Traditional Muslims dress in their finest clothes usually newly bought or tailor-made especially for Eid.
“Eid prayer is the perfect opportunity for Muslims to ask Allah to accept our Ramadan fasting and thank him for Eid. We usually go in big groups to perform the prayer and bring our children along with us to share the happy moment,” said Mariam Mansi, a stay-at-home mother. “It is a beautiful scene where one can see a large number of people dressed in their best Eid clothing,” she added.
One of the most important Saudi traditions is Eid breakfast. Families gather with their nearest and dearest under one roof and eat traditional foods. “Usually the whole family meets at the grandfather’s house or at the eldest member of the family’s residency for Eid breakfast,” said 72-year-old Madiha Seif. “When I was younger we used to gather at my grandmother’s house. Now that I am the grandmother, all my grandchildren and my sister’s grandchildren visit me for Eid. We eat and talk for long hours,” she added.
Seif said after the breakfast and right before her guests leave, she starts distributing eidiya. “It is a long celebrated tradition where the older generation gives young ones money or expensive gifts, just like Christmas, only it is for Muslims,” she said. “One does not have to give a lot of money, I usually give SR100 for my grandchildren and SR500 for my children,” she added.
Eidiya are not only distributed after Eid breakfast. They can be given while going door-to-door to greet the neighbors and friends. Usually during Eid families are always ready to welcome family and friends anytime of the day where they pass by for a cup of Arabian coffee and chocolate. “We go around knocking on one door after the other to greet families and friends and celebrate Eid with them. You can always find them ready to welcome us with great hospitality,” said Nadia Abdulatif, a 39-year-old teacher. “Right before you leave, you will find your elder family member or friend giving your children an envelop with money or sometimes a golden coin,” she added.
Some Saudis also give eidiya for Eid Al-Adha, but they are most commonly given for Eid Al-Fitr.