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Coronavirus Upends Eid Traditions in Saudi Arabia

Coronavirus Upends Eid Traditions in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, 23 May, 2020 - 10:00
Streets are deserted in Saudi Arabia amid curfew imposed over the coronavirus. (SPA)
Riyadh - Saleh al-Zeid

The coronavirus has imposed a certain standstill in Saudi streets and has deprived the Kingdom of the movement that was always part of Eid al-Fitr holiday tradition. The virus has contravened Eid rituals and turned family visits into virtual ones. It limited gifts to shipping services under social distancing. Many families have opted to hold a very restricted celebration by gathering members of each family in one house without breaking precautionary measures.


Ten days after the Ministry of Interior announced curfew during the holiday to prevent the spread of the virus, people started to plan for the celebration in line with the social distancing norms.


With these precautionary measures, Eid rituals this year are likely to be digital with people celebrating on social media and “visiting” relatives via video call applications.


Family gatherings are usually the cornerstone of Eid celebrations. The morning is full of visits as people set schedules and prioritize what houses to head to first, often with the younger generation visiting the older relatives. By noon, everybody will have returned home exhausted after a long morning of visits, ushering the calmest of times in Saudi Arabia as streets empty and people rest.


In this regard, Abdul Hakim al-Darees said his Eid preparations are all about voice and video calls and shipping services that he hopes will deliver sweets and gifts to relatives and friends without having to leave the house under curfew.


He compared celebrating Eid to a "cell center" employee, making dozens of calls in a short period of time to family and friends.


Abdul Aziz al-Ajlan, on the other hand, said he and his family have decided to celebrate Eid in a very restricted way by bringing relatives to one household without breaking the preventive measures.


While Saudis will be celebrating Eid on a very limited scale, the Ministry of Health will continue virus testing during the holiday. Security forces will also continue to patrol streets and neighborhoods to implement a total lockdown that starts on Saturday and ends on Wednesday.


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