After a month of fasting during the daylight hours, France's Muslim community is set to welcome the end of Ramadan at sundown on Friday with one of the most celebrated days in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr, also known as Eid ul-Fitr or just Eid.
France's Muslim population, which is the largest in Europe, learned of the closing date on Thursday after a gathering of Muslim leaders at the Grand Mosque in Paris.
This year's Ramadan, which began on June 18th, saw the longest daylight hours in France in 30 years, making this year's fasting one of the toughest in recent memories.
What it means for Muslims is the end of dawn to dusk fasts as well as the heavy meals they have been sitting down for before sunrise and after sunset. But it’s also the end of the annual rite intended to remind people of their faith. Ramadan also serves as a purification ritual where believers refrain from things like cursing, sex and gossip.
To mark the close of the fasting in France there will be prayers at the Grand Mosque in Paris and across the country and Muslims traditionally will visit family and friends to wish them good luck and prosperity. And of course, there will be plenty of food.
An estimated 70 to 80 percent of France's Muslims fasted during the period.
(The Grande Mosque in Paris. Photo: Chris Yunker)
The dates of Ramadan can be controversial because they are chosen according to the beginning and end of lunar cycles. Thus the date of the festival is different every year and open to some interpretation.
The Muslim communities of Qatar and Saudi Arabia will also observe the ceremony on the same day.