(Warning: may not be suitable for vegetarian readers!)
Eid-ul-Adha (translates to 'festival of Sacrifice'), is an important festival in the Muslim calendar. Also known as the Greater Eid, the festival honours the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son to God.
Muslims all over the world observe this day by slaughtering an animal – a sheep, goat, cow or camel (depending on region). Once the animal is slaughtered, the meat and organs of the animal are prepared and shared among family and friends. People will often donate money – or even live animals – to poorer families in order for them to participate in the religious celebration.
Whether goat, sheep, cow or camel, all animals are slaughtered in a humane way and in accordance with Islamic tradition. The Quran (the central religious text of Islam) states that the animal should be treated and raised as naturally as possible and Islamic guidelines should be followed for the slaughter. These guidelines are followed with every slaughter, not just for the celebration of Eid – the meat of the animal is then ‘halal’ (‘permissible’) and acceptable for Muslims to eat.
And nothing goes to waste! The whole animal is eaten or used in some way. There are a number of traditional Moroccan dishes that use the head, tail, feet and stomach – even the brain! The fur of the sheep is also stripped away, dried out and then used as rugs in the family home.
Every Muslim country and culture has its own traditions that surround this festival. In Morocco, families gather together to celebrate, people congregate at the mosque for the first morning prayer of the holiday, new clothes are bought for children to wear and sweet cakes are prepared for everyone to enjoy.
Women paint their hands and feet with henna, men and boys visit the barber, and people visit the hammam in order to purify themselves before the holy feast. It is a time for family and for everyone to be together.
If you are visiting Morocco during Eid, you will experience a great sense of community. Moroccans travel far and wide to visit family and friends, people wish each other ‘Eid Mubarak Said’ (‘blessed Eid’, ‘happy Eid’) and some Moroccans will even invite you to their homes to celebrate with them.
Some vocabulary/phrases that you will hear during Eid:
Eid Mubarak Saeed (EED muh-BAR-ack sigh-EED) = Happy Eid – to offer your best wishes
howli (how-lee) = sheep
dbeha (dbEEHa) = slaughter
lham (El-Ham) = meat
bneen = delicious