Less than a week to go before Eid Al-Fitr ushers Ramadan away. This is a 3-day celebration after the one month of fasting. Eid simply means Holiday and the word Fitr is the antonym of Seyam (Fasting). So an approximate translation is the "Holiday of the Breaking of the Fast = Holiday of Eating".
Indeed many people start eating with a vengeance. There will be one feast per day for three consecutive days. Normally, and as far as I'm concerned, we would have lunch at my dad's on the first day. It's always Wara2 3inab (Stuffed Grape Leaves, I will try to post a recipe of this majestic dish in due time). On the second day, we go to my mother-in-law's. There, it would be Kobbeh Meshwieh 3al Fa7em (Barbequed Kobbeh), and a fish feast which includes Samak Meshwi, Samak Me2li and Samke 7arrah (grilled and fried fish and a specialty called Hot Fish: cooked in a hot & spicy sauce along with walnut). On the third day, we would normally go out for lunch in some restaurant near or around Tartous.
Basically speaking, most Levantines (Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Jordanians) celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in a very similar fashion to the above with minor variations in the menu details.
But what had gotten over me to start all this talk about food one week early, you may wonder. The truth of the matter is that the last week of Ramadan for all the fasting kids (and on this point I'm still a kid) goes by very slowly. Time seems to stand still. The irregular eating habits have taken their toll by now. The sleepless nights, the protracted TV watching, the somber moments of reflection, the deprivation of being alone have all conspired into making one act more like a zombie in the morning and a stick of dynamite in the afternoon. There's only Food on our minds. One hour before sunset and it becomes dangerous even to argue with one's own kids. They might attack unprovoked. One must also avoid saying "hello" to the stern faces passing the streets. Even if one knows them well and thinks that they are really nice folks, they should be avoided at all cost during these last days of Ramadan. If one feels the urgent need to socialize, he or she must wait until after Iftar.
It's also the peak of the shopping frenzy by now. Clothing stores are crowded with women shoppers and this time they are not just looking, they are serious. A nice garment, if picked by two hands simultaneously could be the bell needed to start a round of fighting. There will be hair pulling, biting, kicking and mud wrestling (the last one is just a personal wish). "Avoid the crowds at all cost and don't buy anything that needs standing in line" is my motto for this period. Truth is: Don't go out anywhere and don't stay in either. Strangers are as dangerous as wife and kids these days. If I can't go to the beach as is the case today due to weather, I hide in my office. I sometimes dread that a client might walk in and ask me to actually work!
There's one more person sharing the office with me and that is my secretary. I can write books on the subject of secretaries but this is not the time or space for that. Sometime in the future, I promise. Suffice it to say that I'm getting along very well with mine during Ramadan. I just took her picture (this minute) and I'll post it along.
This will give you an idea on how and why we are getting along so nicely. A little bit more than three hours to go before Iftar. With no football game on TV until 6:30PM it's going to be one hell of an afternoon for me and for anyone who crosses my path.