Donald Trump ends decades-long White House tradition of celebrating Ramadan with iftar dinner.For the first time in nearly two decades, the White House did not host an iftar dinner to commemorate Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
The White House started yearly ritual in 1996, under Bill Clinton when first Lady Hillary Clinton hosted 150 people after learning more about the ritual from her daughter Chelsea, who had reportedly studied Islamic history in school. By not hosting a dinner, Trump breaks with an annual tradition upheld by the past three administrations. The dinners began under President Bill Clinton and were continued by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They were typically attended by prominent members of the Muslim community as well as members of Congress and diplomats from Muslim countries.
The iftar dinner occurs at sunset at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islam lunar calendar and a time of prayer, reflection and fasting. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania released a statement on Saturday wishing “warm greetings” to those celebrating Eid al-Fitr, an important holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
“Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity,” they said. “Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.”
Historians believe the first iftar dinner at the White House took place in 1805, when President Thomas Jefferson hosted Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, Tunisia’s envoy to the United States. Although Jefferson’s working dinners usually began at 3:30 p.m., in December 1805 the invitations noted that “dinner will be on the table precisely at sun-set.”