Families come together around Muslim ‘feast of sacrifice’
BEIRUT - Returning home for Eid al-Adha, one of the two most important feasts on the Muslim calendar, is a must for many in the Arab region.
Culminating with the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Eid al-Adha, which translates to “feast of sacrifice”, commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, symbolically shown by the slaughtering of sheep, goats and cows and sharing the meat with relatives and the poor.
It is also an occasion for families to get together, share special meals and distribute food to the poor.
Ayman Abdo said he is looking forward to being with his family during the four-day Eid holiday in his native Asyut in southern Egypt after several months away.
“I must go back (home) because there can be no joy in Eid away from my family. All my brothers who work away from Asyut also return home for the occasion,” said Abdo, who works in a grocery store in Cairo.
In Egypt, as in many other Middle East countries, Eid al-Adha celebrations have remained mostly unchanged but tough economic conditions are taking their toll on people’s abilities to be part of the festivities, Egyptian sociologist Samia Khedr said.
“People are less capable of buying new clothes, going out on expensive journeys or even buying animals for sacrifice,” Khedr said. “However, the festive mood on such occasions is always indomitable.”
For Magida Saleh, a Lebanese woman in her fifties, the holiday has lost its smells. “In my childhood, the smell of maamoul and other Arabic sweets made especially for Eid filled the house on the eve of the feast. I miss those smells. Today most people buy their sweets and have them delivered because they are too busy to make them at home.”
In Syria, war and inflation have forced residents to modify their customs, especially with Eid al- Adha this year coinciding with the beginning of the school year.
“There will be no new clothes for the children and no Eid meal. We will serve coffee and some homemade sweets for visitors and well-wishers. I can hardly pay the school fees, everything has become so expensive,” said Mohamad Salem, a government employee and father of three.