Eat up! It's Eid!
For Illustrative Purposes. AFP PHOTO/ LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI
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Chocolate and candy are among the most important symbols of the Eid tradition in Saudi Arabia.
Families buy them in the last five days of Ramadan just in time for Eid, displaying them in elaborate presentation plates for their visitors to eat upon greeting each other on the occasion.
“Eid is a time where we celebrate the end of Ramadan by welcoming family and friends to our homes. Visits are usually short, so the tradition is to offer only chocolates and Arabic coffee while we update each other with the latest news,” said Fatima Abduwahed, a stay-at-home mother. “I don’t know when this tradition began. I just remember seeing this happen ever year since I was a little girl and I cherish this occasion because you get to see all the people you love in the first three days of Eid,” she added.
Eid is high season for chocolate and candy shops, as sales increase exponentially. “I have loyal costumers who have bought their Eid sweet supplies from my shop every year for years now. By now, I know what they like and I always put their order aside to make sure they find something when they walk in,” said Mohammad Jabbar, manager of a chocolate shop in Jeddah. “I feel bad when I run out of chocolates and I have to tell my costumers to try other shops. I always encourage them to order earlier to help me accommodate their needs,” he added.
Downtown Jeddah transforms into a colorful and festive area the night before Eid, where big kiosks are set up selling different types of candy produced internationally and locally.
“I have been selling candy in downtown Jeddah for years now and I only display them two days before Eid. During Ramadan, I sell different kinds of dates in the same location,” said salesman Khalid Basaber. “I make huge profits in the month of Ramadan and during Eid. I am always sold out of candy before the start of Eid prayer and I bring more in the next day.”
Basaber said Saudis always look for candy that is wrapped in colorful paper, which they buy for kids. “Prices always rise during Eid, so I buy the candy at wholesale price in the last week before Ramadan and preserve it at a cool temperature until its time for Eid,” he said.
“The bestseller on my stand is the fruit candy because it is colorful and tasty. This is why you'll be sure to see a huge supply of this type of candy on my stall,” he added. Some customers are dismayed by the dramatic increase in the price of chocolate and candy during this peak season.
“It is unbelievable how expensive a plate of chocolate is in the last ten days of Ramadan. I can buy the same amount any time of the year for half the price,” says Hanan Nader, a stay-at-home mother. “This year, I decided to buy the chocolate earlier and keep it in the refrigerator until Eid because I usually buy chocolate in huge quantities for my family and friends as Eid gifts,” she said.