by Yara Al-Wazir
I always found the holiday season stressful when I lived at home. Whether it was Eid or a birthday, the influx of emotions, people, food, sweets, and the sudden burst of must-do activities was overwhelming and exhausting, but it’s one of the things I miss most since moving away.
Even though I hadn’t started university yet, I spent my 18th birthday with my friends in Morocco rather than at home with my parents; in my mind, I was convinced that this had prepared me to be able to celebrate anything and everything on my own so long as I surround myself with the right people. A month after moving away for college, I realized that Eid al-Adha was right around the corner, and I fell into the biggest slump of all time – or so I thought. As fate would have it, I would be too ill to celebrate anyway, but the slump that I fell into taught me lessons for my second Eid away from home, which certainly gives Kuwait Eids a run for their money.
The most important thing to do is to surround yourself with the right people. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to celebrate with the Islamic Society at your university. Whether you end up celebrating with people who celebrate Eid, or simply with people who’d like to know what Eid is like, it’s the atmosphere of being in a room with dozens of people and so much food that you can barely breathe that makes the whole situation feel like home.
Do something new, go somewhere exciting. Remember when you were 5 and you’d go to a new theme park? Do it again. For once, your rides won’t be limited to the ones at Entertainment City or Sha’ab Park; instead you have the opportunity to go on some of the fastest, largest, and most exciting rollercoasters in the world, so go ahead and do it.
Dress up. Even when it’s not Eid, walking into a mall or a gathering in Kuwait feels like you’re joining the audience at New York Fashion Week, but once Eid comes around, it no longer feels like you’re part of the audience, instead it feels like you’re actually on the runway. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be dressing up to go shopping when you live anywhere but Kuwait, but dressing up for Eid is a must. Ladies, strap on some heels and put on a dress. Gentlemen, pull out your finest dishdasha, or Oud-scented perfume and go all out.
Eat up. Nothing brings people together like food, so throw a party with some authentic Arab food, and invite your friends to bring a dish that represents their country. Not being able to cook shouldn’t be a problem as you can find Lebanese cuisine in almost every town, although sometimes it’s labelled Greek or Mediterranean instead.
Skype the family; nothing feels as warm and fuzzy as being on speakerphone with the entire family. This way, you’re close enough to the chaos for it to feel like home, but far enough to enjoy it at the same time. Make sure there’s a box of tissues nearby though, as this puts you in the risk of a waterfall of tears.
Take a day off. The transitional process from four-day Eid holidays to zero-day Eid holidays is tough and it’s even harder when your department or lecturers don’t understand that Eid is a perfectly legitimate excuse for missing a deadline, but you’re guaranteed to have two free days each week – the weekend. Use them to celebrate either in advance or late, or even both. Nothing quite beats a double celebration.
Yara Al Wazir is an activist and student currently based in the UK – her monthly column reflects on her experience of moving away from the familiarity and comfort of Kuwait, to the UK in pursuit of a university degree.