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Eid ul Adha in the United Kingdom

Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. It is also called Eid al-Adha, Greater Eid, Sacrifice Feast, or simply Eid.

Sheep are among the animals traditionally sacrificed on Eid ul-Adha.
Sheep on a farm in Scotland. On Eid ul-Adha, UK Muslims traditionally sacrifice a sheep, a goat, or a cow.
©iStockphoto.com/Bene_A

Eid ul-Adha in the Islamic Calendar

Eid ul-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhū al-Hijjah, the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar. Traditionally lasting for four days, the first day of Eid ul-Adha marks the end of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah.

Muslims use a lunar calendar which differs in length from the Gregorian calendar used worldwide. This means the Gregorian date of Muslim holidays, including Eid ul-Adha, shifts slightly from one year to the next, falling about 11 days earlier each year.

Eid ul-Adha Date Depends on Moon Sighting

The timing of Muslim months and holidays depends on the sighting of the Crescent Moon following New Moon. Because the Moon's visibility depends on clear skies and a number of other factors, the exact date for Eid ul-Adha cannot be predicted with certainty.

Also, since the Moon is never visible in all world regions at once and current local dates can vary from one country to another, the holiday may fall on different dates according to a country's longitude and time zone. Depending on their country of origin or cultural affiliation, some Muslims in the UK may, therefore, celebrate Eid ul-Adha one day earlier than others.

Is Eid ul-Adha a Public Holiday?

While Eid ul-Adha is an important celebration for Muslims, there are no bank holidays associated with this particular date in the United Kingdom. However, since the Gregorian date of Muslim holidays changes every year, Eid ul-Adha can fall on other UK bank holidays.

Mosques are likely to be busy, and this may lead to some traffic congestion. Some Muslims choose to take one or more days of annual leave at this time.

Eid ul-Adha in the UK

On Eid ul-Adha, Muslims in the UK usually start the day by performing ghusl, a full-body purification ritual. They then dress in their finest outfits and attend a prayer service at an outdoor prayer ground or the local mosque. Afterward, it is customary to embrace and wish each other Eid Mubarak, which translates as “have a blessed Eid,” give gifts to children, and visit friends and relatives.

One of the central rituals on Eid al-Adha is Qurbani, the act of sacrificing a sheep, goat, or cow. According to Islamic rules, the animal must be an adult and in good health, and British law additionally mandates that the animal must be killed in an official slaughterhouse. The meat is then divided between family, friends, and the poor. Other Muslims give money to charity to give poorer families the chance to have a proper Eid feast. Mosques or other groups may arrange communal meals.

Eid ul-Adha has a celebratory character, and the day may be rounded off by visiting funfairs or festivals held for the occasion in some British cities.

Initiatives to improve the quality of life or opportunities in Muslim communities around the United Kingdom may be launched on Eid ul-Adha. Some mosques also hold study days or lectures on aspects of Islam and Islamic history.

Eid ul-Adha Food

In contrast to Eid ul-Fitr, which is nicknamed the “Sweet Eid” for its variety of sweet dishes, Eid ul-Adha is often called the “Salty Eid” because the feast includes mainly savory food. While the composition of the feast in the UK largely depends on the cultural background of the family, the main ingredient is usually the meat from the slaughtered animal: mutton (adult sheep), chevon (adult goat), or beef (adult cattle).

Popular dishes include Kebab (boneless cooked meat), Haleem (a stew usually made from meat, wheat, and lentils), and Biryani (a spicy meat and rice dish originally from India). The meal is usually rounded off by a sweet dessert, featuring cakes, biscuits, or sweet pastries like Turkish baklava.

The Meaning of Eid ul-Adha

On Eid ul-Adha, Muslims around the world celebrate Ibrahim's complete obedience to the will of God. According to Islamic tradition, Ibrahim (Abraham) agreed to sacrifice his son Ishmael when God ordered him to do so. However, just as Ibrahim was about to kill Ishmael, God put a sheep in his place.

Who Celebrates Eid ul-Adha in the UK?

With nearly 2.8 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom, which equals about 4.8% of the population, Islam constitutes the second largest religion in the country, after Christianity. The largest Muslim community can be found in London. The municipalities of Bradford, Luton, Blackburn, Birmingham, and Dewsbury also have significant Muslim populations.

About Eid ul Adha in other countries

Read more about Eid ul Adha.

Eid ul Adha Observances

Note: Regional customs or moon sightings may cause a variation of the date for Islamic holidays, which begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. The Islamic calendar is lunar and the days begin at sunset, so there may be one-day error depending on when the New Moon is first seen.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedNov 17Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2011MonNov 7Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2012FriOct 26Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2013TueOct 15Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2014SatOct 4Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2015ThuSep 24Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2016TueSep 13Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2017SatSep 2Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2018WedAug 22Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2019MonAug 12Eid ul AdhaMuslim 
2020FriJul 31Eid ul AdhaMuslim 

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