Reclaiming Holiday Spirit


The author, Nena Beecham, F’18

What does holiday spirit feel like? Thirteen years ago, as a young girl in the middle of a thriving Muslim community in Mobile, Alabama, I could have given you a detailed answer. Holiday spirit was the strong sense of henna spiraling through the mosque as all the women and young girls drew on henna tattoos the night before Eid. Holiday spirit was the glitter and intricate designs that shined off of my new dresses and scarves that my mother had bought me from halfway across the world. Holiday spirit, in its quintessential form, was going to the mosque at the break of dawn and hearing the joyous sound of Eid Mubarak coming off of everyone’s lips, friends and strangers alike.

Students enjoy their meal at our Eid banquet in Copley Formal Lounge

Students enjoy their meal at our Eid banquet in Copley Formal Lounge

As a child, I completely understood what holiday spirit was, and Eid was the perfect embodiment of it. Things changed, however, as I got older and my family moved away from our Muslim community in Mobile, Alabama. Characteristic of many military families, my family and I moved multiple times across numerous states throughout my childhood. Every time we moved, we formed fewer ties with our new Muslim communities and spent even less time spreading the holiday spirit of Eid that I had cherished so dearly. My father eventually retired from the military in San Antonio, Texas, and although we lived there for nearly ten years, we never fully immersed ourselves in the Muslim community there.

As a result, during the last few years before my entrance to Georgetown, I felt a loss of holiday spirit and a loss of community. During Ramadan and during numerous Eid’s, I remember scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and seeing Muslims around the world make henna tattoos, wear glittery dresses and scarves,and go to the mosque at the crack of dawn just like I had done when I was little. My memories of truly celebrating Eid began to fade away, and with each passing day my yearning to be a part of and celebrate with a Muslim community began to grow stronger.

Students serve one another at our Eid banquet

Students serve one another at our Eid banquet

That yearning that I feared would become a permanent part of my life slowly faded away when I began my time at Georgetown. For the first time in a while, Eid felt like a holiday and its spirit could be felt in the air. For my first Eid at Georgetown, I woke up at 7 a.m. to pray and hear Imam Hendi give an inspirational sermon. The sound of Eid Mubarak echoed throughout the prayer room as everyone greeted each other with smiles and hugs. Everyone made plans to go out to dinner, hang out around campus and visit one another’s houses as the first of three days of exciting celebration began.

What has been most helpful in helping me reclaim holiday spirit is that Eid at Georgetown is a holiday celebration that is not confined to only the Muslim community. On Eid day, I received messages from friends – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – wishing me a blessed holiday. My professors enthusiastically encouraged me to take a break from class and spend the day with friends and loved ones. At the Eid banquet, I hear the sound of Eid Mubarak come off of the lips of all of my friends, not only from those who practice Islam.

Celebrating Eid at Georgetown has been by far one of my favorite Georgetown experiences, and its role in helping me reclaim holiday spirit is a role whose importance I will never forget.

Written by Nena Beecham, F’18