The following guest post is a contribution by fellow blogger and recent expat to Morocco, Amanda Mouttaki of MarocMama.com. I’ve been enjoying following her pursuits through daily life in her new home of Essaouira on the eastern coast of Morocco where she recently moved with her husband and two young sons. Check out her blog and read on for this interesting piece on her observation of what it’s like when Eid is just around the corner.
“What’s that sound?” my mom asked as we began our conversation today.
“What do you mean? It’s just me here, the windows are open – maybe you hear something outside.” I said.
“Oh that must be it.”
“Ohhhh you mean that? Our neighbors got their sheep.”
Yes, it’s that time of year, with less than a week left until Eid al Adha preparations are in full swing here in Morocco. This past weekend we started to see more and more sheep in the city and on a train trip to Casablanca this week we could see shepherds moving closer and closer to the cities with their flocks. While in the US we might buy a sheep ahead of time, go to a farm on the day of Eid, and prepare for the sacrifice, here the earlier you secure your sheep the better the price. Except there’s no farms in a city like Marrakech so that means the sheep comes home with you.
Sheep find many ways to make the trip. The lucky ones only have to walk. Others might get to take a ride on a motorcycle, in the back of a wagon, in the luggage hold of buses (yes, I’ve seen this!), or even standing on top of a van – fenced in of course. Once at home families may keep them on their roof until the day of the sacrifice.
Sheep are not quiet creatures and so day and night the bleating sounds can be heard up and down the streets of Marrakech. In some countries, like Egypt there are Eid decorations and festivities that start ahead of the holiday, but Morocco doesn’t go the decoration route. There are signs that pop up, stores that run special promotions, like our local grocery store that is offering a drawing for a free sheep, just write your name and number on your receipt and you could be the lucky winner! In Djem al Fna the famous and largest market in Marrakech the streets are full of vendors selling traditional Moroccan outfits for the holidays.
Women spend their time preparing by for guests and family by cleaning the house top to bottom. Dried fruit and nut stands spring up in the smaller neighborhood souks (outdoor markets) that normally don’t have enough demand to support them. There are cookies to be made and stored for impending guests. The butchers sharpen their knives and men visit to make their house call “reservation” for the day of Eid. There’s a run on the banks because by the end of the week of Eid they will be running low. Everyone buys their groceries ahead of time, before the prices are inflated. Kids, including mine, anxiously countdown the days until their school vacation and how they will spend the Eid money relatives will give.
I’ve celebrated eight Eid al Adha’s in the United States and this is my first year being in Morocco leading up to the holiday. Eid is on everyone’s lips and it’s clear there is something happening, though perhaps a visitor might not pick up on this overture. It’s subtle but there’s a real feeling that something is happening, something I’ve never quiet felt in the US. Maybe it’s because everyone is preparing instead of a feeling of isolation. I’ve even been entrusted to prepare some cookies for my in-laws Eid table. There’s definitely something in the air.
Eid al Adha greetings to you and your family from Marrakech, Morocco!