Eid Etiquettes

About Eritrea - History & Culture

Kulu Amin Wa Antum Bikier, is the first wish and greeting of the day every Muslim exchanges and also would likely hear first thing in the morning, to an instant reply of Kulu Sena Wa Antum Tayubun by others who happen to be relatives or even those passing the streets. That Arabic wish literally is translated as, May you all remain safe every year while the reply goes as, May you all remain well.

A fabulous and well-mannered wishes continue on flowing through out the whole day so all the people feel the joy and harmony of the Eid, having men closed in their white Jelebyas (Arab traditional cloak) and women wearing their colorful Liwyets (traditional women garments) head to the morning Eid prayer glorifying their lord Allahu Akbar … Allahu Akbar, in a uniform and loud tone of voice.

Eid Al Fitr is one of the major holidays in the Muslim community of the world, where they celebrate and have fun after a blessed fasting month of Ramadan. Eid days are commonly celebrated through various cultural activities that fits the environment and their respective societies of the world. People throughout the world have their own ways of celebrating this beautiful day. First thing to do in the day of Eid is praying the Eid prayer in the morning; that’s the main common thing. Faithful offer the Eid prayer gathering in one field that can hold them all.

In the early times here in Asmara city we used to pray in the Jamie Mosque near Merkato in the liberty avenue. But then the number of the praying people exceeded the place and reached down the main streets. Then, it was decided that all the Eid prayers after that moment to be held at the Bahti Meskerem square.

Meanwhile, the other activities that are done after the prayer depend on the cultural habits of the people and their surroundings. Eid Al Fitr in our country is well articulated and massively honored by both the Muslims and Christians. Everyone is held in having the day be at its most, by visiting each other’s home and congratulating one another.

As far as I can recall, being a child and attending the day of Eid in such nation of ours colors the day of the child and leaves a lasting memory. If a family takes it fine and hands you over the responsibility of looking after your younger siblings and take them to visit every door, s o m e h o w you are a v e r y lucky person in the world.

That very moment you are the Boss of the day, you demand whatever you want, to the younger siblings. Simultaneously, it’s a hectic job to do, seeing it now, you are the manager of the day, what an experience before a lesson. Well, I have been doing this for at least three or may be four years, having my younger sisters in both of my hands and taking them to every door of the relatives we knew. But, if all of us are to go for Mieyad (a word derived from

Eid meaning to visit the relatives), it’s on a condition that should be fulfilled before the day. First thing all of us have to wear NEW, top to bottom. I got to get a new haircut; and my sisters are in the beauty salon early in the morning before I get back from mosque.

New Haircut, New shirts, new trousers, new socks and pair of shoes, All New! Then, all is well, we all march to the long day, eating and drinking sweet. If you got unique chocolates you don’t eat them but keep them all till night, so you can eat them slowly feeling the extreme sweetness they hold.

Most of all, what every child expects as treasury of the day becomes the Meeyedi: this is a gift that every child receives from close families while they go for visit. If you save more than ten box that very day, you are like Bill Gates or Tim Cook of the day. It’s a lot of money for the child, feeling an urge to be back home and tell mom and dad that so and s o gave him or her that amount of money and let them keep it for him or her for later.

Another story, back then when I was an elementary school student, I was as usual, told to take my younger sisters for Mieyad. You know what I refused to do so because I did not get to cut my hair cut, which was supposedly to be carried out by my brother. That only day I stayed at home when everyone was having fun and I got pissed off the whole day. That is how much Eid means to children in this culture of ours.

On the other side, the elders take on visiting each other soon after the Eid prayer. Initially, it is normal to pay a visit to your close family members; your father’s house, sisters who got married, brother’s, uncles and aunts, grandpas and grandmas, after that the remaining kinfolks get the chance to be visited.

If the visitor is well programmed knowing where and where to go, then the task to finish all of the family remains pretty simple, otherwise like others do it, simply and wisely, just take three days off their job so as they can reach everyone restfully. It depends on how many houses you get to in the day of Eid and on how much the family is interconnected. On the streets all children block your ways asking in demand Meeyedi… Meeyedi so you can give them from the sweets you received, they are really the flavor of the day.

A common recipes of the Eid day, and that everybody don’t want to miss is the Aba‘eke drink. It is sweet and healthy drink, were everybody in the society regardless the faith wants to have. To my understanding, it is fermented not more than a week before the Eid day. Its taste varies according to how Wehale or “Effective” the mother is on the process of fermentation. My mom is one of the Wehale ones, because we never ceased to drink the Aba’eke up until it becomes filter. The other unique recipes of the day are the quality biscuits served in with various sweets. My friends prefer those biscuits in our house to the formally prepared Engera and Tsebhis. To the fact, I used to be selective on picking different and exceptional sweets while visiting every house, we still do, chocolate ones are more preferred than normal or local candies.

Beyond all of these stuffs the day allows the people to share a moment of love and joy and on the way it becomes a means to strengthen the unity of all families, friends; near and far, co-workers, new guests do get introduced while visiting homes to chat over matters hence they develop worthy networks afterwards. It is a moment where people get over their quarrels and angriness and misunderstandings to deliver a sense of peace between themselves and their partners.

It is a moment where all people in the world build their relations and connections through many ways, thanks to Alexander Graham Bell who brought us the telephone, that is another way we can connect with each other.

Anyone who has witnessed and above all shared the times of Eid in our country would definitely understand it how precious the moments are. It provides one a sense of lasting joy and it has indescribable feelings when friends and families gather in one of the member’s house to share the day with the stunning smell of coffee, the Himbasha (homemade sweet bread), the cakes, the chit chats alongside the endless laughter, where the honorable guests applaud and wish the household the same time next year by saying in local tone as: Entay mo Tumat Nerkum… Ni Ameta Kemzi Ewan Trah. Everyone develops such harmonious and joyful events to be part of their festivities.

Ever since old times, this kind of sharing festivities among our fathers and forefathers has become a strong and long lasting positive culture commonly seen and shared between the Muslims and the Christians, and still is followed. I believe the Eid beholds Kier to all of us people and Eid Mubarek. Book yourself an Eid invitation not to miss the wonderful Eid Etiquettes. It is everywhere an Abshiru or a Welcome moment.