August 19, 2012 - Eid ul-Fitr

The Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, began four weeks ago (on July 20) with the sighting of the crescent moon, and today it ends with another sighting of the crescent moon. Actually, because Muslim holidays always begin at sunset of the day before, many Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan (which is called Eid ul-Fitr) yesterday at sunset; but because Muslims in India could not see the crescent moon until tonight, they will celebrate today at sunset.

You may be wondering how Muslims can fast for an entire month, but the month of fasting—not eating or drinking—actually runs from dawn to sunset each day. This is supposed to redirect focus from “worldly” activities and toward spiritual reflection. There is a pre-fast meal each day before dawn (although it may consist of nothing more than a few dates and a cup of water), and there is a fast-breaking meal each day at sunset.

By the way, it is worth noting that Muslim children do not generally fast; nursing and pregnant women do not fast, and others may not fast if there is a good reason (such as illness, age, or other condition).

With today's end-of-Ramadan, there are celebrations of one, two, or three days, which include special meals, giving to charity, and prayers.

Also on this date:

Root beer entrepreneur Charles Hires's birthday 

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