(Emily Giambalvo/The Washington Post)

The suburban street where Hamida Shadi lives was still Friday morning. No cars drove through the neighborhood, morning clouds held their pinkish tint from sunrise. It was 5:30 a.m. Yet inside Shadi’s home, everyone was awake.

Shadi had been up since 3 a.m. preparing a vast array of Egyptian dishes. She expected 80 friends to visit through the day as they celebrated Eid al-Fitr, which marked the end of fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. She had hosted an Eid breakfast before, but this year had a different element: The holiday took place with Egypt’s first World Cup game in 28 years as a backdrop.

“It’s more fun,” Shadi said of these two events colliding. “Except I’m a bit worried. I hope the Egyptian team wins.”

Shadi stayed at the house in Herndon, Va., to clean the kitchen while her husband, Walid Elgamal, and their 19-year-old daughter, Noor Elgamal, went to the mosque two miles away. As they walked inside and removed their shoes, a loud chorus of “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” — filled the building.

The prayer hall was packed. Usually an Eid prayer service this early in the day wouldn’t be so crowded. Walid asked two men next to him, one Saudi and one Egyptian, if they chose the 6 a.m. option because of the game. Both said they did.

“Most Egyptians today will go to either the really early one or the really late one to make sure they watch the game,” Noor said.

After a 10-minute prayer and a short sermon, the visitors — including a few wearing Egypt soccer shirts — filed into the lobby.

By the time Noor and her dad arrived back at the house, the kitchen was clean and Shadi had traded her apron for a bright pink shirt.

Trays of cookies — so many that Shadi said she used 20 pounds of flour — were set in the dining room and living room, where Walid quietly watched the pregame show. One by one, Shadi transferred each dish to a serving platter and began to fill the dining room table. The Eid breakfast included traditional Egyptian foods such as eggs with corned beef, fried fava beans and pastrami. She also served a layered bread pastry called feteer that she brought back from Egypt when the family visited in December.

Egyptians are passionate about socializing, Shadi said. She pointed to the two large juice dispensers to prove her point. Those jugs meant to serve many are common at Egyptian gatherings, she said.

“We don’t have family here,” Shadi said. “Friends here are our families.”

A few minutes after 8 a.m., friends arrived with even more food. Conversations in Arabic filled the house. Guests piled food onto their plates and congregated around the television. The game had begun and so had the celebration.


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