Together with Ramadan, the Sacrifice Festival (Eid al-Adha) is one of the two main Muslim holidays. This year it’s taking place from August 31st to September 4th.
This holiday honours the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God’s command. Before Ibrahim sacrificed his son, God intervened by sending his angel Jibra’il to put a sheep in his son’s place.
The Sacrifice Festival begins with a prayer followed by a sermon. Celebrations traditionally start after the Hujjaj, which refers to the pilgrims performing the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Halal animals (usually lambs, cows, sheep…) are sacrificed as a symbol of thanks giving to God. The meat from sacrificed animals is then distributed in three ways. One third is kept by the closest family, a second third goes to other relatives, friends, neighbours, … and the last third is given to the poor.
This holiday is period of remembrance and it’s considered the holiest days in Islamic culture. In its essence, the sacrifice is practiced as a devotion to God, as means of getting closer to God through worship. It’s a gesture of your willingness to sacrifice your possessions for truth and justice, and also a way to take care for poor people or people in need and share with them what you have.
At the same time, it gives the poor and people in need a chance to be thankful to God and not to feel in despair. It restores or empowers her/his belief in her/his role as an individual and not just as a needy person within the society.
According to the Islamic lunar calendar, the Sacrifice Festival starts on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah (the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar) and lasts for four days, until the 13th day.
In some regions of Morocco, like Agadir where we have a destination office, they celebrate the Boujloud Festival. On the eve before the holiday starts and the day that follows, mostly the young people put on the skins of the sacrificed animals, and roam the narrow alleyways of their cities to the beat of drums.
In the main cities of the United Arab Emirates they have big fireworks displays. In Egypt, the family gatherings involve lots of cooking and eating all kinds of traditional Egyptian meals, but the one dish most associated with the holiday is “Fattah”, which it’s rice with tomato sauce and cow or sheep meat on top. For Tunisians is typical to eat Osban, a dish made with sheep guts.