Happy Eid al-Fitr! This year Moslems around the world celebrated Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr differently, as we had to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially in Indonesia, we have no more break-fasting gatherings, no Taraweeh and Eid prayer in congregation, no going back to hometown to visit families. Some people still do those activities tho, because their towns were located in green zones (very low infected cases), or they were just careless not following the authority’s request in the name of God. For me, this quarantine time is surely an unusual Eid al-Fitr celebration during my life, together with these other three years.
Around the United Kingdom, 2019
Ramadan in May-June 2019 was the first time I did fasting for more than 14 hours a day. On those Spring days, the sun lasted for about 17 hours in Brighton, and even longer in Glasgow. Amidst the campus’ deadline, I managed to travel around 9 cities in the UK while fasting, such as Edinburgh, Liverpool, and York. I found it easier to use my body heavily for walking and traveling, rather than to use my brain for studying and thinking during long fasting hours.
The sunset in Brighton was around 9 PM, which was also my daughter’s bedtime. Although I could not join many break-fasting events by the Moslem community or the Indonesian group, fortunately I was never break-fasting alone because my husband was there with me and our kid for the whole Ramadan. Even better, in the last week of Ramadan, my in-laws came visiting us in the UK and we spent Eid al-Fitr together in London.
At first, the Eid day was not confirmed yet whether it would be on 4th or 5th June. If it was on 5th June, I would miss the Eid prayer with my family because I got a sitting exam on the campus on that day. Luckily for me, the Eid day fell on 4th June. In the morning, we went to Wisma Nusantara, where Indonesian Embassy held Eid prayer and open house for Indonesians in the UK. In the afternoon, I traveled back to Brighton, while my family still stayed in London for one more night. I got one peaceful night all by myself to prepare for the next day’s exam.
Seoul Wanderer, 2011
I moved to Seoul during Ramadan in August 2011, single but not available. Usually, the new staff would be introduced to several lunch places around the office by their colleagues, right? Especially foreigners like me. But I had to excuse all those invitations in my first weeks because I was fasting. The fasting duration itself was not that much different from Indonesia, but the Ramadan festive was totally missing. Many people even did not know what that was. I spent 3 fasting months in Singapore before, where people also ate freely in public during Ramadan, but many Moslems communities and mosques conducting Taraweeh could be found.
Eid al-Fitr that year fell on a workday. I was lucky that my boss allowed me to take a half-day off in the morning to attend Eid prayer in the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Seoul, even though I just joined the company in less than a month. After praying
and having delicious Indonesian meals, I quickly went to the office and back to work like a normal day (What Eid?). I did not feel miserable tho, since I newly arrived in that country, not missed my family (a little bit perhaps), and could not wait to explore Korean cuisines.
Road trip to Aceh, 2005
This one might not be about the Eid day itself, but on the way to/from that special day. I was 20 years old, together with my parents, younger sister and brother had our first (and last) road trips between Jakarta and Lhokseumawe (Aceh) for 4 days each (around 2500km). My father alone drove our minivan for the whole trip, that’s why we traveled slowly. No GPS or smartphone at that time, we simply used a maps book.
On the first night, still in full energy, my father kept driving while I was riding shotgun. Little did we know that we took a shorter but more dangerous road across Lampung that night which was famous for robbers. Thank God we did not face any troubles. For the rest of the journey, we stopped and stayed in a cheap hotel in 3 different towns after sunset. In Jambi, we’re forced to take a break earlier, because my younger brother got a fever and my parents took him to a doctor. Fortunately nothing serious, and we were able to continue our journey the next day.
I think it took the same amount of days to go back to Jakarta after several days of spending Eid in our hometown. Funnily I did not remember any interesting moments on our way home, maybe because the road trip was apparently tiring and no longer interesting, and we kept asking “are we there yet?” We never took a road trip to Aceh again since then.
Those were my memorable unusual Eid-al Fitr celebrations I had experienced, in addition to this year of course. What’s yours? Taking the positive side of COVID-19 into account, at least this year we spent Ramadan and Eid warmer with our tight circle at home. It could be your family, roommate, housemate, or even yourself. We had break-fasting every day at home, rather than in the office or on the road. That was a bliss.