We have just had a batch (3) of public holidays here in Dubai to celebrate Eid al Fitr, which is the official end of Ramadan (hooray)! And it's all to do with when the new moon is spotted.
According to the Dubai Astronomy Group, “The Islamic month is tied to the moon. This way, God made it easy for humanity. No calendar, no counting days, just follow the moon."
There are a group of people called the UAE Moon Sighting Committee and the committee meets if there is the slightest chance of a sighting because, by tradition, when the new moon can be seen by the naked eye, a new month has begun.
This time, they were looking for the Shawwal moon - which is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Once the moon is spotted, the committee members extend congratulations to the country's rulers, the people of the UAE and Muslims around the world.
The down-side this year (and I honestly don't know if it's the same every year) but Eid al Fitr was announced really late in the evening, and we were quite lucky to know about it - we just stumbled upon it on the internet. I have many friends who still got up, got dressed and drove to work - only to find that the office was shut for a few days.
I appreciate that moon sighting is steeped in tradition, but I do think that being part of the Moon Sighting Committee is a cracking job to have!