Thursday, September 24, 2015

Celebrating Eid in Morocco

Across Morocco Eid al-Adha was celebrated in towns, cities and remote mountain villages. It was a day of tradition, family gatherings and much fine food

In Fez, the day of the Sacrifice dawned clear and cool. Around the gates to the Medina the last sheep were hurriedly delivered. Then silence. The streets were deserted, with everyone at home preparing for the moment when their sheep or goat was to be sacrificed.

After ten in the morning the sheep also fell silent and the smell of charcoal smoke wafted on the air. Down in the streets groups of young boys built temporary barbecue fires under old bed bases.

Not the image some tourists were expecting

A group of newly arrived tourists wandered through the streets, wondering what they had walked into. Their bemusement at the sight of the sheep heads being cooked and the quickly growing piles of sheep skins, showed clearly that these were not the images they had seen in the glossy tourist brochures.

Stomach lining is hung to dry (top) and then used to wrap pieces of fresh liver

Once prayers were said and the sheep slaughtered, the smell of cooking became as all pervasive as the cloud of cooking smoke cloaking the Medina.

Most families cook inside on their floor - with charcoal smoke everywhere!

In home across the city, usually on the floor or in the stairwell, the charcoal was glowing and the first pieces of heart or liver were being cooked.  The same ritual was being played out across the city and the excitement and pleasure was evident from the calling and laughter across roof tops.

Eid Mubarak

And out in the countryside Rose Button reports from Moulay Idriss

Moulay Idriss Zerhoune is a Holy City where Islam was first introduced to Morocco. And being an agricultural town it is no surprise that Eid al Adha is a bustling time of year here.

The sheep souk started this Saturday and each night I could hear more and more sheep bleating in my neighbouring houses. Yesterday was the last day of the market and by 9am it was packed with locals choosing their Eid sheep from local shepherds.

Everyone wants a bargain

Everyone selects something different depending on the size of the family. They may choose a goat or the largest healthiest sheep they can find.

I sit myself in a coffee shop with a mint tea and watch the details of the selection process, and it is a serious business. Sheep trucks are stopped as people want the best selection first, checking the health of the animal by looking at teeth and feeling the muscle. They move on and come back again for more discussions and debates over price and quality.

I have met shepherds with their flocks while walking on the mountains and know they have been treated well.

Once selected it is critical to get the selected sheep home. The easiest, and for me the most hilarious, way is on donkey and I witness sheep placed in the basket on each side of the donkey then another over the top. Others walk the sheep, carry the smaller one's on their shoulders. Some are so stubborn they are not going anywhere. I laugh a lot at the spectacle and enjoy everyone's joy and delight celebrating Eid.

Eid mubarak said
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