“August 31st to September 2nd marked the celebration of Eid Al Adha amongst the Muslim community. For me and other international students that meant a three-day weekend to explore Morocco and the culture shock of seeing piles of sheep’s remains in the streets. For Moroccans, it meant a big meal with their families, similar to the way we might celebrate Thanksgiving.
Why do we celebrate the Eid?
I had to do a bit of research on my own for this one. (Genuinely surprised it wasn’t discussed in any of my classes).
According to the Quran, as a test of his faith and obedience, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismael. He prepared to follow God’s will even when tempted by the Devil not to. God rewarded his obedience by replacing Ismael with a sheep whom he sacrificed instead. Muslims commemorate this sacrifice by slaughtering a sheep for the Eid meal. One-third of the meat is kept by the family, another third is shared with relatives, friends, neighbors and the final third is donated to the poor.
As an outsider, I have to admit I was initially shocked and disturbed by the tradition but hearing the backstory behind it has helped me with that. Whether we see it or not animals are sacrificed for our nourishment every day. The way I see it, the Eid tradition is not only a form of worship but an opportunity to acknowledge that sacrifice.
Art and Architecture and Ruins, Oh My!
My Eid consisted of a weekend in Rabat and Casablanca. Four friends and I rented out an Airbnb in Rabat, a beautiful riad next to the Old Medina of Rabat. The first night the couple who owned the riad took us into the Medina to buy groceries and food for the night and we had a dinner of chicken, rice, fries, and the first of many experiments in making Moroccan mint tea (I swear I’ll have the recipe down by the time I come back).
Day 1 in Rabat
Friday morning we rose bright and early for a day of sightseeing. First stop was the tower of Hassan Mosque, followed by a walk around the mausoleum of Mohammad V and then to explore the ruins of the necropolis at Chellah before looking for a place for lunch. Most everything was closed and the streets were empty but it made for a peaceful stroll as we wandered through the city before finally finding a place serving fresh squeezed orange juice and sheep tagine. After lunch was my favorite part of the day, Skhirat Beach. Somehow I did not expect to surf here but after seeing the surf school in Rabat it is now definitely on my bucket list to go at least a couple of times while we still have some warm weather.
Day 2 in Casablanca
The next day, day two of the Eid we boarded the train to Casablanca visit our friend and student ambassador Amine. Amine has taken such good care of us and done such a good job helping us get accustomed to life in Morocco and AUI campus life from the second we arrived at the airport in Fez that it’s hard to imagine what we would’ve done without him.
Watching his mother make lamb brochettes (kebabs) and enjoying dinner in a traditional Moroccan salon we got a real feel for how Eid is typically celebrated in Moroccan families. I kid you not when I tell you this meal had five courses and I was not ready for it. First, an appetizer of rice pilaf and fresh vegetables and olives. The main course of lamb brochettes followed by a tray of fresh fruits. A pre-dessert snack of raisins, dates, and nuts and finally a dessert tray full assorted cookies and cakes served with Moroccan mint tea. We ended the day with a bit of shopping before heading on the train back to Rabat.
Day 3 Last Day in Rabat
Sunday morning we got our last day of sightseeing in. First, at the Kasbah of Udayas, an abandoned fortress painted mostly in blue and white like mini Chefchauoen in Rabat. Then, the Mohammad VI Museum of modern art which held some of the most incredible and inspiring contemporary work by African artists and finally our last lunch at Dar Naji, a cafe with good vibes and the best tagine I’ve had in Morocco so far before the five hour grand taxi ride back to home sweet campus. ”