There are two major Muslim holidays - Eid ul'Fitr and Eid ul'Adtha. The dates of these holidays vary from one year to the next based upon a lunar calendar. These holidays will fall a few weeks earlier each year as the Islamic calendar is slightly shorter than the solar calendar used in much of the world today.
Eid ul'Fitr is the celebration of Muslims at the ending of the month of fasting - Ramadan. During Ramadan Muslims that are physically able fast from dawn to sunset each day. Muslims abstain from all food or drink, martial relations, smoking and bad conduct during the fasting hours.
Eid ul'Fitr celebration is accompanied by feasting and social gathering between families and friends.
Eid ul'Adtha is the celebration that takes place during the days of pilgrimage also know as Hajj. The pilgrimage to Meccah, is one of the essential rites a Muslim must perform at least once in their lifetime. During Hajj, the pilgrim re-enacts rites performed by Prophet Abraham and his family. One important rite commemorates the commandment given to Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. When Prophet Abraham proved his willingness to sacrifice his dear son, God replaced Ishmael with a ram that was sacrificed instead.
Muslims around the world commemorate Prophet Abraham's obedience to God with Eid ul'Adtha. Each family will sacrifice an animal and share its meat between the needy, family and friends. Traditionally Muslims have celebrated Eid ul'Adtha over three days while Eid ul'Fitr is a one day celebration.
The actual Eid prayer on both days is usually performed a large open public place. The Prophet Muhammad encourage all of the community to come together to attend the prayer. Muslims should wear their best clothes. The prayer starts with a formal prayer followed by a sermon.
The Prophet's Birthday
A number of Muslim cultures celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad known as mawlidu n-nabiyyi, or Birth of the Prophet. The practice of celebrating the birthday originated 500 years after the death of the Prophet. Some Muslim scholars do not approve of the celebration as the Prophet Muhammad often warned his followers to never venerate him.