November 30, 2009
Celebrating Eid Al-Adha in a traditional Berber village

Aida Alami lives in Casablanca and writes for Le Journal Hebdomadaire, a French-language Moroccan magazine. She describes celebrations during the Eid Al-Adha holiday that concludes the hajj.

Two days after Americans feasted on turkey, Moroccans chowed down on lamb.

This weekend was one of the most important celebrations for Muslim people around the globe. For centuries, people annually sacrifice a sheep to follow a hallowed tradition. In Morocco, even people who cannot afford to buy meat most of the year save up to be able to buy a sheep.

This tradition is based on making some sort of sacrifice to show God a full commitment. The legend says that God had asked the prophet Ibrahim, known as Abraham in English-speaking Judeo-Christian culture, to prove his full dedication by sacrificing his only son: Ismael.

Even if it was the hardest decision he had ever made, according to the tradition, Ibrahim ultimately decided to show his loyalty to God and kill his son. After he thought he had done so, God spoke to him and revealed that instead, he killed a sheep and saved the son. Muslims use this story to illustrate willingness to make a great sacrifice to show allegiance to God.

Since then, Muslims commemorate what they see as a miracle by sacrificing a sheep at the same time every year.

In the Berber village of Azimime, located in the south of Morocco almost 40 miles from Marrakesh, a family celebrated Eid Al-Adha in a typical festive way. Like every other year, the women wake up first, around 6 a.m., to make special foods for breakfast.

The following slide-show with photos by Leila Alaoui takes a look at the villagers’ day:

Kids and adults put on nice clothes bought for the occasion. Neighbors walk around the village to wish each other a happy holiday and stop for a cup of tea. After the men slaughter the sheep, the women start cooking all its parts. The first meal is a barbecue with all kinds of meat: liver, heart and so on. The families get together to celebrate and eat. The Eid celebration sometimes last three days — until all the meat is eaten.

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