moroccan christmas

…or at least that’s how i like to think of it. the holiday is called Eid al-Adha (translation: festival of sacrifice) or it’s also known as l’3id kbir (translation: the big holiday). the days leading up to it is comparable to people getting ready to celebrate christmas back home only instead of scrambling at the mall to buy the latest gadget for a loved one, moroccans go to the sheep souq to buy the best looking sheep they can find to take home and slaughter on the first day of l’3id (oh yeah, it’s a 3 day celebration). while waiting for my mudir the other day in tangier, i watched 3 sheeps and a goat trying to resist the walk to their impending doom but alas, none of them were saved. i saw that goat get stuffed in the trunk of some guy’s car and i knew as am sure it did too, that it’s all over.

moroccans and muslims around the world celebrate this holiday to commemorate abraham’s sacrifice– as the story goes (the islamic version although it’s a shwiya the same to the christian version), is that abraham, his wife hajir, and son ishmael, who is his only child at the time traveled to arabia on God’s command. abraham left to go back to canaan while hajir and ishmael stayed behind. quickly their resources ran out and hajir prayed to God for help and water sprung up out of nowhere.  years later God commanded abraham to build a place of worship near that very same well and this is how mecca came about. then abraham was faced with another challenge. he was asked to offer his dearest possession to God- his only son. so abraham asked his son if he would be willing to give up his life and ishmael gladly gave his consent. as abraham was getting ready to cut ishmael’s throat, he closed his eyes because he couldn’t bear to watch his son die and when he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to find a dead ram in place of ishmael. as a reward for his willingness to sacrifice his only son, God rewarded him with his second son, isaac. and that is how eid al-adha came about.

it is said that this tradition accounts for 100 million slaughtered animals just during the celebration of l’3id itself. crazy! old volunteers warn us newbies about all the blood and the variety of sheep parts that will be scattered all over the streets the next few days. coincidentally, i’d planned on staying indoors the next four days anyway. peace corps has a travel ban in place for us volunteers for the next week so i can’t really go anywhere. and since there’s nothing to do around town anyway, i figure i’ll just stay in! yesss…unfortunately it was a little harder to avoid the carnage at home. my host family was nice enough to spare me the actual slaughter but my host mom showed up at my door with a large liver kebab and half a round of giant bread inviting me to see what they were doing, making sure that i remembered to bring my camera with me so that i can show my mom some pictures. and of course, i was happy to oblige. she leads me around the back of the building where it literally looked like a crime scene. there was blood and guts everywhere…literally! i go inside the barn and find two sheep carcasses (one is my host brother’s and the other is my host parents’) hanging with their skin cast aside and their various organs are divided between different buckets. i sat with them for a little while as they worked to prepare the sheep for consumption, they showed me which parts were edible, and which ones aren’t. the whole thing was actually pretty interesting and a little entertaining. the best part was that i got to take home an entire sheep leg to cook for later! so how does one end a day such as this?? by watching princess bride and eating pb&j for dinner. Eid Mubarak everyone!!

here’s a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure 😀


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