Monday, December 17, 2007

Eid is coming, the sheep are getting fat

Eid falls on Friday 21 December, and Fez is buzzing with activity. Lumen has been out and about, aided and abetted by Tom Fakler (who took the photos), to see what's going on.

If you want a really nice sheep, pop off to the tents in the carparks at Acima or Marjane (the supermarkets) where there's a wide choice. You'll need to know how to check its teeth and prod it about a bit to make sure it's good quality. This year a live sheep will cost you Dh41 per kilo, which just goes to prove that inflation isn't very high in Morocco. Three years ago, it was Dh35 per kilo. Mind you, a sheep must weigh at least 40kg, so that's a minimum of Dh1640; rather more than the average Christmas turkey, and very expensive for many families. But in this culture of helping your neighbour, no-one will go hungry, every family will get their sheep, even if they share with relatives. And some wealthy people will buy a hundred or two sheep and give them away.

Then you've got to get your sheep home. You can put it in the back of your car, hire a honda (small van), share a large van with other people (and sheep), or simply tie a piece of rope round its neck and walk it home. If you do use a honda, there are plenty of men with carossas (carts) waiting at the taxi ranks to help you and your animal home.

Once you've got the sheep up on the roof of your house (as good a place as any to keep it), you'll need to feed it for its few remaining days. There are lots of people sitting around in the medina with a load of wheat that they separate into piles of grain and piles of chaff. The supermarkets and the medina stalls are full of barbecuing equipment; skewers, grids, charcoal and very sharp axes and knives. If you already have a knife, it's probably got a bit blunt since last year, so have it sharpened by the knife-grinder who's pedalling his whetstone on the corner of the street.

wheat and hay for sale for feeding your sheep

Marjane (the big supermarket on the edge of town) is full of people stocking up for the occasion, and there are special offers on new fridges, stoves, washing machines and microwaves.

Everybody wants new things for Eid, new clothes, new pots, new plates and new teapots. It's a bit chaotic in the supermarkets, especially when the husbands are the ones driving the trolleys.
And everyone wants money too. If you're having some work done on your house, for example, the workers will make sure they turn up before Eid so that you can pay them. It's time to give the domestic worker a bonus or a kilo of good quality dates and some chocolates or clothes for her children. And the children are very excited about their howli (sheep) and feel sorry for those who don't have one.

Come Friday, the family will gather to watch father slaughter the sheep after the call to prayer (and after the King has killed two sheep - one for his country and one for his family), and then the medina streets will be thick with smoke from barbecuing sheep's heads, entrails will be hung out to dry on the washing lines, and everyone will be tucking into sheep's stomachs (they're eaten first). On the second day, other parts of the animal will be eaten. It's a great family occasion - children get presents of money, everyone wears new clothes and visits their relatives.

Eid Mubarak Said!

you'll need charcoal for the barbecue



Anonymous said...

35 to 41 dirhams, over three years, is a rate of inflation of almost 6%. That is quite high. Inflation in the UK is currently 2.1%.

Kenn, Rabat

Anonymous said...

We arrived from the UK early on the 21st, and Fez was like a ghost town - when we had a few days on a whitle-stop tour of Morocco last summer it was jumping. But over the next few days it woke up more and more, until it was back to its usual busy, energetic, exciting self. Lovely place, Fez, we had a fantastic week there, and will definitely be back...