Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Arab "Thanksgiving"

[When I say "today" I actually mean many months ago. I just realized I forgot to hit "publish."]

Today is the Eid celebration, the Arab day of sacrifice commemorating Isaac's liberation from having to sacrifice his own son. You might remember from the Bible, that Abraham was tasked by God to sacrifice his son Ismail. But just before Abraham, in his faith, was about to do this, God relieved him of this great burden. Instead, a lamb was sacrificed.

To commemorate this event, Arab's all over the Arab world sacrifice animals and donate the meat to the poor, and their own relatives on this day called Eid. There are two "Eid" holidays; this one is associated with Haj, the journey to Mecca that one must make at least once. It is called Eid al Adha.

As I write this, the prayer for this special day is literally going on around me. I'm waiting for Ahmad to come and get me and my friend Tim. We are going to an animal butchering, and to deliver the meat to the poor.

This is a typical web e:card written in Arabic that says "Happy Ed"

At first I really didn't want to go, but thought I should out of sort of an anthropological opportunity. But then I thought; this is a lot like Thanksgiving. Millions of animals are slaughtered and served up all across the region to honor the idea of feast, plentifulness, sacrifice, God, and family. The only difference is that I'll actually see the slaughter, something I've never had the chance to do, and something I've always felt squeamish about. I'll let you know how it goes.

See Wikipedia for more.

This one is from the Port of Said, where the Suez canal is. So businesses, just like in the States, send out "holiday" greetings for the event. The word "Mubarak" means blessed. And yes, their former leader also had this name, but the word is like being named "Good," in English. It is more common in Arabic to have last names that also have religious significance, like Ramadan as a last name. This is like in Spanish where you can be named Jesus. 

Below is the basic image search for Eid. It has cartoon sheep, a lot of them with humor about which sheep will go first. All around Cairo are corrals of sleep (some even in grocery stores) ready for slaughter. 

Google Search

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