If you live in the Middle East, or have any Muslim friends than you are likely aware that the holy month of Ramadan is over, and we are currently in the midst of Eid celebrations. Basically, Muslims are done with the fasting, and are moving into party mode. Eid is celebrated when the new moon is sighted in the sky over Saudi Arabia. It is supposed to be a time of forgiveness and giving to those who are less fortunate. So kinda like the Christmas season for non-Muslims. Eid celebrations last 3 days, although I’ve heard rumor that some government employees get up to 20 days off between the end of Ramadan and Eid. I’ve also heard rumors that sometimes the King gives a couple extra days of holiday so Saudis can keep the celebrations going for another couple days. Oh how I hope he does that this year. I could always use another couple travel days! Here at the hospital non-essential services are closed, that means most clinics and departments will have the week off. But alas, not me. This doesn’t apply to in-patient caregivers.
I worked the first day 2 days of Eid, and everyone was festive and friendly. Most of the patients I work with are quite generous. I’m often offered chocolate or Arabic coffee after I’ve finished assessing my patients, but Eid is a whole other story. “Take chocolate, take chocolate” was commanded of me every time I entered a room, for literally any reason, and taking one chocolate wasn’t enough “take more, take more!!!” At first I was like “hells yeah I’ll take a chocolate or two” but by the end of the shift I was like- I humanely can’t eat anymore chocolate. And trust me, Saudis will never listen if you tell them that you can’t eat anymore for fear of getting fat/fatter. Mostly, because as I’ve come to learn, Saudis like the ladies to be on the plus-side. Any time I’ve ever made reference to my weight, or needing to exercise they look at me like “girl you crazy. You’ve got it going on in the all the right places.” Earlier this month we had a family who would bring in enough food to feed all the staff on night shift. One of the nights they offered me this “fruit juice” which was the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted. It was like doing shots of corn syrup, and there was no way I was ever going to drink that stuff again. But being the generous people they are, the next night the only way I could get out of drinking this sugar concoction after repeatably saying “no I’m full” and then miming I will gain weight, was to literally tell them I was diabetic. Not my most honest moment. But at least I didn’t have to drink it. The other lovely thing about Eid is that there is a tradition of gift giving. Saudis will give gifts to their servants, nannies, and drivers, as well as to each other. A couple of the patients at work put together gifts for all the staff, and yesterday one of my favourite Saudi ward-clerks bought several cakes for us nurses. I’m a big fan of Eid!!
The last 2 nights there have been fireworks here in Riyadh, and tonight is the last night, so I’m heading out with some friends to catch them. So Eid Mubarak which translates to Happy Eid to one and all!!! Also, I hope this picture doesn’t offend you but someone sent it to me on Facebook and once I got the joke I thought it was a riot. I hope you do too!!
Have you ever taken part in Holiday festivities in a culture/religion that wasn’t your own? I’d love to hear about it!!