Egyptians are celebrating Eid al-Fitr this year without former President Hosni Mubarak for the first time since 1981.
Revolutionary slogans were displayed in public spaces where the dawn Eid prayers were held Tuesday (August 30th), the first day of Eid.
Eid al-Fitr in Egypt is a family affair, and the holiday begins at dawn with Eid incantations. Afterward, fathers attend mosque with their sons for Eid prayers. Breakfast is ready when they return, and the most prominent item at the table are Eid cakes and a variety of maamouls, which every home has in abundance during the holidays.
The women prepare Eid cakes, which is a Pharaonic custom, because the Pharaohs used to make cakes stuffed with dates or dried figs in various forms, topped with dried fruits.
Prices for Eid cakes have risen dramatically. Massad Abdul Rahim, the owner of a Cairo shop that sells Eid cakes said, "Prices reached 35 Egyptian pounds per kilo on the first day in the middle class areas, and exceeded 50 pounds in the high class neighbourhoods. They were selling for 25 pounds at most a week ago."
Abdul Rahim said the price fluctuations were a product of low supply and high demand. Bakery owners were concerned about low customer volume so they reduced production at their bakeries which led to higher prices.
Egyptians also adopted the tradition of distributing shareek candy, which is maamoul without the stuffing, to the poor and to visitors at the cemeteries during Eid al-Fitr. This custom can be traced back to the Pharaonic era when unleavened bread would be presented to Isis to give rest to the dead during the Second Life, according to ancient beliefs.
Dr. Mervat al-Qassab, who teaches sociology at the University of Cairo, said Eid rituals in Egypt begin during the last 10 days of Ramadan when decorations are adorned on streets, mosques and apartment balconies with colourful lighting and other ornaments.
Al-Qassab said the holiday atmosphere in Egypt is notable for the collective outings to public gardens and parks after Eid prayers are completed and visits are exchanged with parents.
She said many families consume salted fish such as al-faseekh and herring during Eid because individuals who are fasting do not eat salted fish during the month of Ramadan as it causes thirst.
Haj Amin Fathi, 45, said the first day of Eid is very special for Egyptian families. He personally leads prayer with his three sons. After breakfast the family goes out to wish relatives a good Eid and then visits a public park or a garden to spend the whole day outside.
According to Fathi, the location of choice for the middle class and the poor is the Giza zoo which becomes packed with visitors who form long lines outside early in the morning so they can enter and find a suitable place to spend the day. There is also high demand for boat cruises along the Nile.
Children look forward to the holiday as well because they get some extra spending money.
"The children wait for this day anxiously to obtain the 'holiday bonus', and they go out to spend it on games, sweets, or to rent bicycles and motorcycles," Fathi said.
He said that the "bonus" is not just given to young children but includes all children who are still living in the house regardless of their age.