Morocco: Celebrating Eid in the Bled

This past weekend, Moroccans celebrated Eid Al-Adha, or the Festival of the Sacrifice, often referred to in Morocco as Eid Al-Kabir, or “the big festival,” as opposed to Eid al-Fitr, known colloquially as Eid al-Sghir, or “the little festival.”  While the holiday shares the same meaning and traditions across the Muslim world, the celebrations are often uniquely local.

Erin says of her family's sheep: "He had no idea what was coming."

Erin says of her family's sheep: "He had no idea what was coming."

Bloggers in rural Morocco (referred to locally as the bled) are sharing their stories about this year's Eid. As Internet access is sparse and often prohibitively expensive outside of cities, many of the people blogging from rural areas are Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and are therefore positioned to give an outsiders’ perspective…from the inside.

Erin, a PCV who blogs at Reflections and Experiences in Al Maghreb Al Aqsa, explains her host family's Eid traditions, saying:

Saturday morning, my host family slaughtered a sheep and 2 goats for the Eid celebration. This is done in honor of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son for God, before God told him to sacrifice a sheep instead. Although Muslim families all over the world practice this tradition, people celebrate in very different ways. Some families give all the meat to those in need, while some (like my host family) eat every last organ, and have enough meat to last them for 2 or more months.
Joy in Morocco, who is also a PCV, writes of something she's grateful for in Morocco, also sharing a picture of a woman

Joy in Morocco posted this photo on her blog

Joy in Morocco posted this photo on her blog

from her village cooking on Eid:

Moroccan's close connection with food. Sheep meat doesn't arrive in frozen packages. They slaughter it. They prepare all the meat- start to grill. Similarly is their relationship with fruit and vegetables, particularly in my region. Everything comes from their backyard, literally.

PCV oclynn in morocco was less of a fan of the holiday.  The blogger explains:

Smoke off the grills rising from all the rooftop decks as the heads and hooves of the sheep are first to go on the fire. Listening to the thrashing of my neighbor’s sheep on our roof as it is dying (and why does it seem to be taking so long?). Sheep were slaughtered on rooftops, the lot next door and on the sidewalk in front of homes. Everywhere. Blood running down the gutter. It must be L’eid Kbir. Not my favorite holiday, but the holiest of them all in the Muslim world.

Blowing up the lungs of the Eid sheep

Blowing up the lungs of the Eid sheep

Yet another PCV whose blog is called From the Cold Land with the Hot Sun shares an interesting experience from the holiday, complete with photo:

Though I'd like to divert the focus away from the gruesome and entertaining aspects of the celebration in favor of the more wholesome and boring ones, I did witness a jaw-dropping moment during the disemboweling of the animal that I cannot resist writing about here. Upon removing the lungs from the inverted and dangling sheep's chest cavity, the friendly man spattered in blood held them up by the still-attached esophagus for all to see. He then blew forcefully into the esophageal opening, causing the lungs to inflate fully– pink, glistening, and strange in the morning sun. It was so cool.

Cynthia, the blogger behind The Couscous Chronicles, is another PCV writing about the holiday.  She explains why it's best to have “family” in Morocco:

This year was worlds better than last year simply because I chose to celebrate it with my neighbors (who have really become my family here) and their entire extended family, which is a hilarious and wonderful group of people. Last year I felt like I just got shuffled around from house to house, drinking tea and eating meat and feeling awkward the whole time, but this year I felt like part of the celebration. Feeling like a real part of a family makes holidays a lot more fun.

Last but not least, Reading Morocco shares a slideshow of photos from a Berber village in Southern Morocco, attributed to Leila Alaoui:

Eid Al Adha from aida alami on Vimeo.

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