One of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr, also known as Eid ul-Fitr or Eid, is a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan (a holy month of fasting observed by Muslims). This year Eid al-Fitr will most likely be observed on Aug. 19, 2012 in the United States. It is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Traditionally, the observance begins with the sighting of the new moon. While many will wait to see the moon or an announcement from Mecca, the Fiqh Council of North America has determined that Eid al-Fitr 2012 will fall on Aug. 19, 2012, based on astronomical calculations.

According to a hadith attributed to Anas ibn Malik, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, the two festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha were instituted by the Prophet after his journey from Mecca to Medinah.

“When the Prophet arrived in Medinah, he found people celebrated two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and merriment. He asked them about the nature of these festivities to which they replied that these days were occasions of fun and recreation. At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days [of festivity] instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

The first Eid al-Fitr was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions after the victory of the battle of Jang-e-Badar.

To mark the beginning of Eid and in accordance with the Sunnah, or practices of the Prophet Muhammad, many Muslims wake up early in the morning and pray Salat ul-Fajr, or the pre-dawn prayer. After brushing their teeth, taking a bath and wearing perfume, they have breakfast before heading off to perform special congregational prayers known as Salaat al-Eid. Many Muslims recite the takbir, a declaration of faith, on the way to the prayer ground and give special charitable contributions known as Zakat al-Fitr.

Eid al-Fitr is a day of great merriment and thanksgiving. Muslims celebrate by gathering with friends and family, preparing sweet delicacies, wearing new clothes, giving each other gifts and putting up lights and other decorations in their homes. A common greeting during this holiday is Eid Mubarak, which means, “Have a blessed Eid!”

Are you celebrating Eid al-Fitr this year? If so, let us know how in the comments section.

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  • Pakistani Muslims offer Jummat-ul-Vida, last Friday, prayers on a street during the holy month of Ramadan in Quetta on August 17, 2012. Muslim devotees took part in the last Friday prayers ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is dependent on the sighting of the moon. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Indian Muslims offer prayer on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan at Jama Masjid, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Muslims across the world are marking the holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Kashmiri Muslim women offer Jummat-Ul-Vida, the last Friday, prayers of Ramadan at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar on August 17, 2012. Muslim devotees took part in the last Friday prayers ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is dependent on the sighting of the moon. (ROUF BHAT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Bangladeshi Muslims offer Jummat-Ul-Vida prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan at the National Mosque of Bangladesh, Baitul Mukarram in Dhaka on August 17, 2012 ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival. The three-day festival, which begins after the sighting of a new crescent moon, marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which devout Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Sri Lankan Muslims take part in communal Friday noon prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Colombo on August 17, 2012, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival. The three-day festival, which begins after the sighting of a new crescent moon, marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which devout Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Pakistani Muslims offer Jummat-ul-Vida, last Friday, prayers on a street during the holy month of Ramadan in Quetta on August 17, 2012. Muslim devotees took part in the last Friday prayers ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is dependent on the sighting of the moon. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Palestinian women pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

  • Pakistani men and children, who fled their villages due to fighting between security forces and militants in Pakistan's tribal area of Bajur, offer prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a mosque in a slum area on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

  • Indian Muslims offer prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan outside the Bandra railway station in Mmbai, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Muslims across the world are marking the holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

  • Pakistani Muslims offer Jummat-ul-Vida, last Friday, prayers during the holy month of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on August 17, 2012. Muslim devotees took part in the last Friday prayers ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is dependent on the sighting of the moon. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Pakistani women and children reach for donated food during the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at a restaurant in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. For many years, Pakistan required all Sunni Muslims, who make up a majority of the country's population, to pay zakat to the government. That regulation changed recently, but many Pakistanis seem unaware and continue to pull their money out of the bank to elude the state. The food is donated by wealthy local Muslims who give money to local vendors to feed the poor during Islam's holiest month. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

  • Indian Muslims break their Ramadan fast at the Jama Masjid, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Muslims around the world are marking the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/ Manish Swarup)