Eid’l Fitr – An Astronomical Date
In the Philippines, September 10 was declared as a non-working holiday to give way for the celebration for the end of the Muslims’ holy month of fasting, the Ramadan.
“Eid” is an Arabic word meaning “festivity” while “Fiṭr” means “to purify.” The holiday is thus a symbol of purification after completing the fasting month.
I read about the Astronomical basis of the date of Eid’l Fitr and this is what I learned. To those more knowledgeable than me, please correct me if something here is wrong.
Eid’l Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a whole month of fasting which starts on the first day of the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Thus, Eid’l Fitr is celebrated every first day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.
The Islamic calendar (or the Hijri calendar) is based on the synodic month* and starts on a New Moon. It consists of 12 synodic months. As computed, it is 10 to 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar we widely use. Thus, Eid’l Fitr is celebrated 10 to 11 days earlier each year. Next year, it will be on the 31th of August.
*The synodic month is the period it takes the moon to reach the same exact phase. (e.g. one new moon to another new moon) It lasts for 29.531 days. Thus, 12 synodic months consists of 354.372 days.
Sometimes it’s also fun to learn the role of astronomy in several cultural practices of different societies. 😀