Families come together around Muslim ‘feast of sacrifice’

Sunday 11/09/2016
One of two most important feasts on Muslim calendar

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.