advent calendar Aïd el-Kebir

Today, 9 December, is Aïd el-Kebir in Morocco, the “grande fête”, the celebration of Abraham’s sacrifice by Muslims all around the world. The Aïd is one of the main celebrations of Islam commemoration the willingness of prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. It is a social fest, with families and friends getting together for the days of the celebration. This year, the 9 and 10 of December were given as holidays.

One of the main rituals, and probably the most visible one, of the celebration is the sacrifice of the animal, mainly sheep and mutton, but also goats, by cutting their throats. Walking through the streets of the rather tiny town of Chefchouan prior to the day where the food for the animals being sold in the narrow streets, I could observe the people letting their knifes being sharpened, hear the sheep being held in the houses baaing. People dress up for the day, and in Chefchouan they also re-freshed the blue painting of the houses.

9 December - re-freshing the colour of your house

9 December - re-freshing the colour of your house

The official estimates talk about 5 million animals being sold and sacrificed, which makes on a population of just over 30 million basically one animal per family. In previous years, nearly all Moroccan families celebrated the sacrifice. An astonishing number, especially when looking at an average price of 40-50 Dirham (3-4 Euro) per kilo of the living animal, making up to 2500 Dirham for the animal, more than the average monthly salary of low-income families. So no wonder that small credits to purchase your yearly mutton were announced well ahead. Some of the newspapers and magazines also highlighted the social constraints, rather than the religious necessity, the cost of the animal and the sacrifice entails.

I was invited to join the family of one of the members of Transparency Maroc, staying over in a hotel next to a lake, about an hour drive from Rabat. A very nice experience.

More information on the Aïd on wikipedia. Does anyone have any other good sources on this to share? I would be interested to know. If you google, the main resources coming up are sacrifices filmed and put on youtube.