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CultureGrams: Eid al-Adha

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Livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha celebrations for over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The holiday, meaning “Festival of the Sacrifice”, commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and is celebrated during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. People visit friends and family and exchange gifts. Many families slaughter a sheep on this day as a symbol of the story of Abraham. Tens of millions of animals are sacrificed around the world in the first two days of the celebration. Families who cannot afford their own animal may join other families and pool their money together to buy an animal. The meat from the sacrifice is shared with family and friends, but a portion must also be reserved for the poor.

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A street vendor makes food at the livestock bazaar in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) ahead of Eid al-Adha, by Keith Tan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

The holiday takes place following the the Muslim Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, the government declares a 12-day holiday that includes the days of the Hajj and the following Eid al-Adha holiday. Traditionally, Eid al-Adha festivities lasted about 4 days. Today, celebrations range in length between different countries–ranging from as little as 3 days (in the Philippines), 9 days (in Gulf states) and 12 days (Saudi Arabia). Learn more about some of the different countries that celebrate Eid al-Adha with CultureGrams: see Egypt, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Albania, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

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